Refinery Fire Threatens West Coast Supply

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Refinery Fire Threatens West Coast Supply

BENICIA, Calif. -- Valero Energy Corp. has run into more problems at its refinery in Benicia, Calif., where the company has been working to replace a gas turbine in the hydrocracker facility.

A pump seal failure in the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) resulted in a localized fire that damaged some instrumentation cables. Valero spokeswoman Mary Rose Brown says the FCCU unit will be down for an estimated 10 days for instrumentation repairs.

Production of gasoline that meets California Air Resources Board or CARB standards will be down approximately 55,000 barrels per day during the duration. CARB production at the facility had already been down 40,000 barrels per day while the company has been working to replace the gas turbine in the hydrocracker. Those repairs are said to be nearly complete.

"Benicia's normal CARB production is about 120,000 barrels per day," Brown said. "So, in total, with both the FCCU and hydrocracker down, we're down about 85,000 to 90,000 barrels per day of gasoline production. Once the hydrocracker start-up is complete at the end of the week, CARB output will be reduced by about 55,000 barrels per day through June 9 or 10."

The localized fire, the second one reported in one of Valero's California refineries in as many weeks, was extinguished by Valero personnel and there were no reports of injuries.

The Benicia refinery, located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Northern California, has the capacity to process 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

San Antonio-based Valero owns and operates 12 refineries in the United States and Canada with a combined throughput capacity of approximately 2 million barrels per day, as well as more than 2,100 convenience stores and gas stations.