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Motiva Port Arthur expansion sees 2nd crane accident

HOUSTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) – A crane lifting pipes for a crude capacity expansion at Motiva Enterprises’ Port Arthur, Texas, refinery toppled over backward on Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the project, the second crane accident on the project.

While the accident was not initially expected to delay the expansion, an investigation into the incident was just getting underway, the sources said.

‘They dodged a bullet,’ said one of the sources of the accident.

Motiva is working to complete the project by early 2012 that will lift the refinery’s crude capacity from 285,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 600,000 bpd, making it the largest U.S. refinery

A company spokeswoman offered few details about the incident.

‘At approximately 10:15 a.m. (CST 1615 GMT), a crane incident occurred inside the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery,’ said Motiva spokeswoman Verna Rutherford in a statement. ‘There are no injuries and no impact to the community. The area has been secured.’

One worker was killed in an April crane accident.

A spokesman for the regional U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration office had no information immediately available about the incident.

‘The project continues as scheduled,’ Rutherford she said.

The $5-billion project, begun in 2007 was stopped for over a year in late 2008 due to concerns by Motiva partner Saudi Aramco about the cost and management of the expansion. Work resumed in 2009.

Motiva is a joint-venture between Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Alden Bentley)

Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.


Motiva Port Arthur crude units shut–sources

Thu Jan 6, 2011 2:45pm EST

* FCC production cut back by about 20,000 bpd

* Restart of one vacuum unit may begin next week

* OSHA investigating crane collapse (Add details, background)

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) – All vacuum distillation units, which do the initial refining of crude oil, and a coking unit were shut at Motiva Enterprises 285,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, following the collapse of a crane, sources familiar with refinery operations said on Thursday.

The refinery’s gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit was running at reduced rates using intermediate feedstocks, the sources said.

A Motiva spokesman declined to discuss operations at the refinery.

Motiva hopes to begin restarting the smaller of the two vacuum units, with a 70,000 bpd capacity, by next week, the sources said. The larger unit may take at least two weeks to restart.

No one was injured when the 200-foot (61-meter) tall crane toppled over backwards while lifting pipe on Tuesday morning, knocking out electrical power lines and striking piping to the vacuum units, the sources said.

“Restart of the bigger one is related to the electrical lines,” one of the sources said. In addition, to repairing the power lines, checks and possible repairs of pipes supply the vacuum units will have to be done.

The 90,000 bpd cat cracker is running at about 70,000 bpd.

Shutdown of the 58,000 bpd delayed coking unit was due to loss of the feed because the vacuum units are shut.

The crane was lifting pipe as part of the crude capacity expansion project aimed at making the refinery the largest in the United States with a 600,000 bpd crude throughput capacity by early next year.

This is the second crane accident during the expansion project, which began in 2007. In April 2010, a worker was killed when a part fell off a crane.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into Tuesday’s crane collapse.

The latest accident is not expected to stop the expansion, the sources said.

“They’ll make adjustments in the schedule to work around it and get it done,” one of the sources said.

Shortly after Tuesday’s crane collapse, Motiva said the expansion would proceed as scheduled.

One challenge will be removal of the fallen crane boom, which will likely have to be cut into pieces to avoid causing further damage to the refinery.


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