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Bloomberg: Total, Valero Refineries Lose Power After Humberto (Update2)

By Jim Polson

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) — Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil company, and Valero Energy Corp., the biggest U.S. oil refiner, said Hurricane Humberto knocked out power to their Port Arthur, Texas, plants today.

A blackout shut Valero’s plant in Port Arthur, Texas, and the company is sending crews to assist, Bill Day, spokesman for San Antonio-based Valero said in an e-mailed statement. No other Valero refineries were affected, Day said.

Rick Hagar, spokesman for Paris-based Total, said no information was available on output at their refinery. Crews are assessing damage and working to restore electricity, which failed about 4:33 a.m. local time, Total said in a report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Valero’s Port Arthur refinery is the company’s largest, capable of processing 325,000 barrels of crude per day. Total’s plant there can process 240,000 barrels per day of crude oil and condensate. Port Arthur is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Houston, near the Louisiana border.

Winds gusted to 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour, causing loss of power throughout the area, according to the Total report.

The company had reported reduced processing rates at the refinery yesterday after a power surge caused by lightning shut down a sulfur recovery unit and disrupted a tailgas thermal oxidizer. The plant was “up and running” by 10 p.m. local time yesterday, Hagar said.

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Beaumont, Texas, refinery was also in the path of the hurricane.

“We’re on the back side of the storm now in Beaumont,” Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Kathleen Jackson said today in an interview. “The refinery’s operational, but of course, we’re still assessing everything.”

A third Port Arthur refinery is owned by Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Arabian Oil Co., with a capacity of 285,000 barrels per day. Motiva doesn’t comment on refinery operations, spokeswoman Sue Parsley said in a telephone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at [email protected] .

Last Updated: September 13, 2007 09:19 EDT

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