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Houston-based Lyondell Basell crude oil refinery set to increase production

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Sources say Lyondell Basell Industries expects a production hike at the Houston refinery following the reboot of a vacuum distillation attached to the large crude unit.

They’ve dropped production from 91,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 85,000 since April 15, when the last of four production unit outages that began with an April 8 fire on a coking unit was shut.

A spokeswoman for the plant declined to discuss operations. However, sources say they expect to boost productions to a minimum of 147,000 bpd, capacity of the Unit 537 CDU processing heavy crude oil. Production had been cut back due to the inability of the VDU to process residual crude produced by the CDU.

Unit 537 handles the initial refining process of oil coming into the refinery, providing feedstock for all other production units. It can operate beyond its 147,000 bpd capacity. Before the fail of VDU, Lyondell was planning to recoup lost production by operating at excelling levels.

Genscape said the VDU reboot was Sunday night following repairs. Unit 536 was shut down April 11 after reported leak findings in 91,000 bpd VDU. Sources say both VDUs were discovered with leaks in piping and malfunctioning pumps. The coking unit expects to be out for three months due to repairs following the April 8 fire, originally thought to return in six weeks. Unit 537 resumed overhauls March 1.

Cokers refine residual crude and convert it into petroleum coke, a coal substitute. A 57,000 bpd coker is still in operation.

Article written by HEI contributor Marcela Abarca.

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