Signs of Life from Gulf Coast Plants


The U.S. base oil market apparently has begun to regain the first barrels of capacity knocked offline by Hurricane Rita.

Citgo told Lube Report yesterday that its plant in Lake Charles, La., has resumed production, although it is not operating normally yet. Citgos plant appears to be the first of four along the Gulf of Mexico Coast to begin manufacturing again after being forced by Rita to shut down.

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The Lake Charles lube and wax plant is returning to normal operations and resuming production, Citgo spokesman Fernando J. Garay said. He added that an earlier force majeure declaration for the companys base oils remains in effect. Citgos base oil plant has capacity to manufacture 9,500 barrels per day of Group I stocks.

ExxonMobil said yesterday that it has restarted several units at its refining complex in Beaumont, Texas, but added that the company does not expect to have all units – including a 12,500-b/d Group I plant – operating normally for approximately two weeks.

ConocoPhillips said it has begun the startup sequence for resuming operations at its Lake Charles, La., refinery but has not yet resumed production of finished products. Spokesman Jeff Callender said the company expected to begin making finished products sometime this month.

Callender said he had no specific information about Excel Paralubes, a 50-50 joint venture between ConocoPhillips and Flint Hills Resources in nearby Westlake, La. The base oil plant is managed by ConocoPhillips and gets its feedstock fromConocoPhillips Lake Charles refinery. The base oil plant has capacity to make 21,900 b/d of Group II stocks.

Motiva has not begun to restart its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, which includes a 25,000-b/d Group II plant – the worlds largest.

The latest I have is, repair work is progressing, spokesman Stan Mays said. We expect to begin startup within the month.

Together the four base oil plants comprise 42 percent of the paraffinic capacity in the United States. All four closed four weeks ago in anticipation of Rita and have remained shut because of damage to power networks and their own facilities. Lubricant industry observers warn that disruptions will cause some blenders to run out of some grades of base oil.

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