Beaumont Suffers Another Setback


The long-awaited return of ExxonMobils Beaumont, Texas, base oil plant suffered another setback last week when the company was apparently unable to complete a planned start-up. Instead, market sources said, it tightened allocations and told customers that production should resume by next week.

A Jan. 5 letter to customers, obtained by Lube Report, stated that orders across a slate of Group I stocks – from viscosities of 100 to 600 S.U.S – will be limited to between 50 percent and 100 percent of normal levels until further notice. Allocations of 70 percent on mid-grades of 275 to 350 and 90 percent on lighter grades had been in place since Oct. 28.

The letter said the allocations were tightened because of unexpected delays in reopening the plant. The company has refused to publicly discuss that schedule or the plants status – and declined to do so again yesterday. According to market sources, however, ExxonMobil said two weeks ago that it planned to begin start-up procedures during the weekend of Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 and resume normal operations in the following days.

Yesterday outside sources said the company indicated that the start-up was interrupted by mechanical difficulties in a crude unit. ExxonMobil said it now intends to restart the plant this week or next, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The plant, which has capacity to make 12,500 barrels per day of Group I stocks, has been offline since the company closed it ahead of Hurricane Ritas Sept. 24 landfall. According to industry observers, the company had previously scheduled the plant to shut down around that time for a five- to six-week maintenance turnaround, but was unable to conduct the work in the weeks following the hurricane.

In October, the company said it planned to reopen the plant in early or mid-December.

Outside sources said they were advised last week that the new allocations will remain in place for the rest of January, even if the plant restarts by next week. ExxonMobil will decide later whether to relax or lift them for February.

Related Topics

Market Topics