Crews extinguish fire at LyondellBasell: Update2
The company reported no injuries and all workers accounted for following a roughly two-hour fire that began just after 11am ET.
The unit was not under maintenance and operating normally at the time of the fire, the company said today. The cause of the fire was still under investigation. LyondellBasell had planned first quarter maintenance on coking and crude units that would reduce throughputs to roughly 200,000 b/d, the company said in early February. The Houston Fire Department said cleaning fluid and heavy oil fueled the fire.
Local media images showed thick, black smoke and flames pouring out of a process area next to drums used to collect and break up petroleum coke, and smoke could be seen across the horizon from downtown Houston.
Refiners use cokers to efficiently process heavy crudes, converting the heaviest fuel oil from crude units into distillates, petroleum coke and other products. The refiner has shifted away from Venezuelan supplies to heavy Colombian and Canadian feedstock over the past three years. LyondellBasell reported combined heavy imports of 171,709 b/d from Mexico, Colombia and Canada in January, the most recent month with data from the Energy Information Administration.
Mexican crudes are traditionally sold on long-term contracts, but Canadian and Colombian heavy crudes trade on the spot market. An outage on the LyondellBasell coker could offset supplies of heavy Canadian crude cut by repairs to TransCanada's Keystone pipeline. TransCanada has curtailed shipments on that line by 35pc as it makes repairs to a leak discovered late last week in South Dakota.
It is the second fire in as many days at a Houston-area refinery. ExxonMobil extinguished a fire on a unit that removes sulfur from distillates at its 557,000 b/d refinery in Baytown, Texas.