Houston refiners weather hurricane-force winds: Update

  • : Crude oil, Oil products
  • 24/05/17

Adds Calcasieu comment, update on flaring reporting

Over 2mn b/d of US refining capacity faced destructive winds Thursday evening as a major storm blew through Houston, Texas, but the damage reported so far has been minimal.

Wind speeds of up to 78 mph were recorded in northeast Houston and the Houston Ship Channel — home to five refineries with a combined 1.5mn b/d of capacity — faced winds up to 74 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Further South in Galveston Bay, where Valero and Marathon Petroleum refineries total 818,000 b/d of capacity, max wind speeds of 51 mph were recorded.

Chevron's 112,000 b/d Pasadena refinery on the Ship Channel just east of downtown Houston sustained minor damage during the storm and continues to supply customers, the company said.

ExxonMobil's 564,000 b/d Baytown refinery on the Ship Channel and 369,000 b/d Beaumont, Texas, refinery further east faced no significant impact from the storm and the company continues to supply customers, a spokesperson told Argus.

Neither Phillips 66's 265,000 b/d Sweeny refinery southwest of Houston nor its 264,000 b/d Lake Charles refinery 140 miles east in Louisiana were affected by the storm, a spokesperson said.

There was no damage at Motiva's 626,000 b/d Port Arthur, Texas, refinery according to the company.

Calcasieu's 136,000 b/d refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was unaffected by the storm and operations are normal, the refiner said.

Marathon Petroleum declined to comment on operations at its 593,000 b/d Galveston Bay refinery.

Valero, LyondellBasell, Pemex, Total and Citgo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on operations at their refineries in the Houston area, Port Arthur and Lake Charles.

A roughly eight-mile portion of the Houston Ship Channel from the Sidney Sherman Bridge to Greens Bayou closed from 9pm ET 16 May to 1am ET today when two ships brokeaway from their moorings, and officials looked in a potential fuel oil spill, according to the US Coast Guard.

The portion that closed provides access to Valero's 215,000 b/d Houston refinery, LyondellBasell's 264,000 b/d Houston refinery and Chevron's Pasadena refinery.

Emissions filings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are yet to indicate the extent of any flaring and disruption to operations in the Houston area Thursday evening, but will likely be reported later Friday and over the weekend.

Gulf coast refiners ran their plants at average utilization rates of 93pc in the week ended 10 May, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), up by two percentage points from the prior week as the industry heads into the late-May Memorial Day weekend and beginning of peak summer driving season. The next EIA data release on 22 May will likely reveal any dip in Gulf coast refinery throughputs resulting from the storm.

Houston area refineries

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

Nigeria tightens sulphur cap on oil product imports


24/06/19
24/06/19

Nigeria tightens sulphur cap on oil product imports

London, 19 June (Argus) — Nigeria has reduced the sulphur cap on refined oil product imports to 50ppm, according to market participants. The new cap — which took effect at the start of June, according to sources — marks a sharp reduction from a previous 200ppm limit set on 1 March . Sources suggest there was no widespread information campaign to make market participants aware of the specification change. The lower sulphur limit comes as Nigeria braces for the imminent ramp-up of 10ppm ultra-low sulphur diesel production at the country's 650,000 b/d Dangote refinery, followed by 10ppm gasoline production in mid-July. A lower sulphur content ceiling for imports will likely favour the sale of diesel, jet fuel and gasoline from the Dangote refinery to the local Nigerian market, which until March was able to import high-sulphur products upwards of 2,000ppm. Some 10ppm diesel has already been delivered to Nigeria since the start of June, as traders have struggled to source any available 50ppm diesel to import into the country under the new cap, one trader said. Despite the regulatory change, one local Nigerian marketer told Argus that a 30,000t cargo of 150ppm gasoline is discharging in the country on 19 June, raising questions around enforcement of the new cap. By George Maher-Bonnett Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Iran's crude output at 3.6mn b/d, says oil minister


24/06/19
24/06/19

Iran's crude output at 3.6mn b/d, says oil minister

Dubai, 19 June (Argus) — Iran's crude output has risen to around 3.6mn b/d, according to the country's oil minister Javad Owji. This puts production at the highest level since sanctions were reimposed on Tehran's oil sector in 2018 following Washington's exit from the Iran nuclear deal. "Our oil production, which was 2.1mn b/d at the beginning of our time in office [in September 2021], has reached 3.6mn b/d," Owji said today during a presentation to the Iranian parliament. "During these three years… with round-the-clock work and effort, production of crude oil in the country rose by more than 1.4mn b/d," he said. "A major part of that increase came through signing investment contracts with [domestic] contractors." When the administration of Iran's late president Ebrahim Raisi assumed office, Iran's crude exports were at their lowest level in a decade, Owji added. Owji's current production figure is 200,000 b/d above where he put Iranian crude output in November last year . At that time, he predicted a rise to 3.6mn b/d by March 2024, continuing an upward trend since the back end of 2022. In July last year, Owji put output at just shy of 3.1mn b/d. His latest assessment is around 300,000 b/d above Argus' estimate for both April and May . The last time Argus estimated Iranian crude output as high as 3.6mn b/d was back in July 2018. The rebound in production has been driven by Iran's ability to boost its exports. Iranian exports began picking up in the months after US president Joe Biden assumed office in January 2021, reaching around 700,000-750,000 b/d compared with 500,000 b/d before the US election. It was not until the second half of 2022 that exports took another leap, to 1mn b/d and beyond. Iran's crude exports have averaged just shy of 1.6mn b/d since the start of this year, according to data from Vortexa, up from 1.42mn b/d in 2023 and 990,000 b/d in 2022. The reasons for the revival in exports have been the subject of much debate, with some attributing it to more relaxed enforcement of sanctions by the US and others saying it has more to do with Iran scaling up its methods of circumvention. The debate even became a point of contention among Iranian presidential candidates this week as they gear up for the country's election on 28 June. Conservative candidates and even regime hardliners largely attribute the boost in exports to methods of circumvention. "Constructive and extensive relations with the world are required for [improving] the economy. This happened during the tenure of martyr Raisi. Now the US foreign secretary must explain to the [US] Senate why Iran can sell 2mn b/d of oil now," former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on 15 June. Raisi administration officials have repeatedly pointed to their techniques to get around sanctions and "energy diplomacy" as reasons for Iran's success in raising exports. But the reformist camp refutes those claims, with former foreign minister Javad Zarif rejecting the conservative narrative on state television on 18 June. "They [hardliners] said 'we taught them how to sell oil.' Not at all," Zarif said. "When Biden took office, his policy was to loosen the screw. Wait until Trump returns to office, and then we can see what [the hardliners] say." By Bachar Halabi and Nader Itayim Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

South Korea buys less UAE naphtha in May


24/06/19
24/06/19

South Korea buys less UAE naphtha in May

Singapore, 19 June (Argus) — South Korea's naphtha imports from the UAE fell to a two-year low in May, following reduced output by Abu Dhabi's state-owned Adnoc. South Korea imported 97,500 b/d from the UAE, a 23pc drop from the previous month and down by 24pc from a year earlier, according to GTT customs data. This was the lowest level since 83,800 b/d in May 2022. This was in sharp contrast to imports in this year's first quarter that averaged 205,000 b/d. South Korea imported 192,000 b/d of naphtha from the UAE in 2023. Adnoc was expected to reduce its naphtha production and exports following a change in its domestic crude slate. Adnoc had started to divert its medium sour crude grade Upper Zakum to its Ruwais refinery complex as part of the company's $3.5bn crude flexibility project, which is designed to free up more of the UAE's lighter, sweeter Murban grade for export. The switch in Ruwais' crude appetite reduces naphtha production, as the yield of naphtha from Upper Zakum crude is less than its Murban grade, said market participants. The actual loss of supplies cannot be confirmed but it is forecast to be around 900,000-1.2mn t/yr (22,000-29,000 b/d), said two petrochemical producers that are also buyers of naphtha from Adnoc. There is also a South Korean customs investigation under way to ensure cracker operators are not importing oil from sanctioned countries such as Russia. The investigation has reduced "but not stopped" imports of naphtha from commercial storage tanks in places like the UAE and Singapore, said a South Korean trader. Adnoc is the main supplier but there are other smaller UAE suppliers in Fujairah and Hamriyah. Some Korean cracker operators are avoiding commercial tank naphtha because of the customs investigations, another South Korean trader said. Qatar and Kuwait were the main beneficiaries with South Korea's shift from UAE naphtha. South Korea's imports in May from Qatar and Kuwait rose by 89pc and 45pc month-on-month respectively. Imports from Qatar were 128,500 b/d, while shipments from Kuwait totalled 105,000 b/d. South Korea had imported 50,000 b/d from Qatar and 54,000 b/d from Kuwait in this year's first quarter. By Aldric Chew Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Malaysia's Lotte Titan yet to produce on-spec aromatics


24/06/19
24/06/19

Malaysia's Lotte Titan yet to produce on-spec aromatics

Singapore, 19 June (Argus) — Malaysian petrochemical producer Lotte Titan has yet to produce on-specification aromatics after its aromatics unit in Pasir Gudang restarted on 10 June. The unit, which can produce up to 110,000 t/yr of benzene and 60,000 t/yr of toluene, continues to face technical issues after experiencing delays to its restart date earlier this month, with flaring being observed at the Pasir Gudang complex. The company now aims to produce on-specification aromatics products by the end of the week. The associated No.2 naphtha cracker, which also restarted on 10 June, is producing on-specification olefins, although production rates remain unstable. The No.2 cracker has a nameplate capacity of 430,000 t/yr of ethylene and 220,000 t/yr of propylene. By Joonlei Lee Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more