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Bloomberg: Shell Reports Unit Disruptions at Refinery in Deer Park, Texas

By Victor Epstein

March 22 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, reported that several units were idled yesterday by a power failure at a refinery in Deer Park, Texas.

The idled refinery equipment included two crude units, a hydrotreater, vacuum flashers and an 85,000-barrel-a-day delayed coker, Shell said in a filing with Texas environmental regulators. The plant is owned by Shell, based in The Hague, and Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos.

A 67,000-barrel-a-day catalytic cracking unit was described as operating at “near normal rates.”

Several units at Shell’s chemical plant in the 1,500-acre Deer Park complex also were affected by the power failure, which began at 3 p.m. Houston time. Shell will be restarting the idled units through March 26.

“We expect both operations to be normal by this weekend,” Dave McKinney, a plant spokesman, said of the refinery and chemicals operation. He didn’t comment on how fuel production was affected.

The refinery is located near Houston and can process 340,000 barrels of crude a day, according to Shell.

The shutdown and restart necessitate the emergency flaring of chemicals, according to state filings. Flaring entails the burning off of chemicals into the air.

Shell estimated the amount of chemicals that will be flared by the refinery through March 26 at 2,500 pounds of hydrogen sulfide, 190,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 7,000 pounds of carbon monoxide, 1,000 pounds of nitrogen dioxide, 5,000 pounds of particulate matter and 3,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds.

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, poison gas. Sulfur dioxide is its waste product. In Texas, the two chemicals can only be flared in an emergency.

Shell estimated that the Deer Park chemicals plant will flare another 45 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 4,338 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victor Epstein in Houston at [email protected].

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