Report Lists Plant Changes – But Not Motiva’s


The latest report on base oil refining capacity in the United States shows changes at a number of plants in the past year and indicates that capacity for premium stocks now exceeds Group I. The most interesting number, however, is one that did not change: the capacity listed for Motivas plant at Port Arthur, Texas.

Officials acknowledged last year that Port Arthurs output grew after it changed catalyst material during a maintenance turnaround in the first quarter of 2004. Before that, the company said the plant was capable of making 22,000 barrels per day of Group II stocks. While Motiva did not publicly discuss the size of last years increase, sources outside the company have said that representatives pegged it between 10 and 20 percent.

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An increase of that size could have been enough to make the Port Arthur facility the worlds biggest source of base oil. Korean refiner S-Oil Corp. would be the other contender with a 24,000 b/d plant in Onsan, South Korea. A government-owned refinery in Azerbaijan has greater nameplate capacity but has for years been operating at much lower levels.

Market observers have looked forward to National Petrochemical and Refiners Associations release of its 2005 Lubricating Oil and Wax Capacities report for an official statement from Motiva, a joint venture between Shell Oil and Saudi Refining Inc. But this years document, released last week, again lists the Port Arthur plant at 22,000 b/d. Indeed, a Shell spokeswoman claimed yesterday that capacity did not increase last year.

It is not at all unusual for capacity changes to take more than a year to show up in the NPRA report. Refiners frequently say it takes a period of operating before they know a plants capabilities. One observer speculated that Motiva may have extra motivation.

I think they were very pleased with the boost they received from the new catalyst, he said. I suspect they dont want to bring too much attention to what happened in hopes that they can keep a competitive advantage.

It is uncertain whether todays capacity of the Port Arthur facility will ever appear in an NPRA report. Construction is underway on a massive 13,000 b/d expansion that is scheduled to come online in January 2006.

Even without the change at Port Arthur, there was enough change for the balance of U.S. paraffinic capacity to tilt from Group I to Group II and Group III stocks. The new report shows capacity of 84,300 b/d for Group II and III, compared to 77,700 for Group I. The 2004 report showed Group I ahead 80,900 b/d to 76,500 b/d. Capacity for hydrotreated naphthenic base oils rose to 32,500 b/d, up from 31,500 b/d last year thanks to a 1,000 b/d expansion at Calumet Lubricants plant in Princeton, La.

Calumet also claimed the biggest change on the paraffinic side of the market, with a previously announced 2,500-b/d expansion at its Shreveport, La., plant, which also upgraded 1,500 b/d of Group I capacity to Group II.

ExxonMobil upgraded 2,000 b/d at its Baton Rouge, La., plant to Group II production, which did not change its total capacity of 16,000 b/d. At its Baytown, Texas, plant, ExxonMobil reported an increase of 700 b/d in Group II/III capacity and a loss of 200 b/d for Group I – bringing total capacity there to 21,000 b/d. American Refining Group reported a 600 b/d gain at its Bradford, Pa., plant, evenly spread across Group I and Group II.

Capacity at the Excel Paralubes Group II plant in Westlake, La., swelled 200 b/d to 21,900, while Ergon reported a small shift from Group II to Group I for its Newell, W.Va., plant that boosted overall capacity 100 b/d to 4,800. The report does not reflect an expansion at Valeros Three Rivers, Texas, naphthenic plant, which raised capacity to 3,500 b/d, from 2,300 b/d a year ago.

Numbers for plants in Canada and Latin America – and for rerefiners of lubricating base oil – were unchanged. The report listed one change anticipated this year: San Joaquin Refining plans to provide secondary hydrofinishing for an additional 1,800 b/d at its naphthenic plant in Bakersfield, Calif.

The complete 2005 Lubricating Oil and Wax Capacities Report is available now, and costs $25 per copy (free to NPRA members). To obtain a digital or paper copy, download an order form from (The order form is being updated now, so you may need to specify the 2005 edition.)

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