Port Arthur Refinery

Last updated

Motiva refinery
USA Texas location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of the Port Arthur Refinery in Port Arthur, United States
CountryUnited States
Province Texas
City Port Arthur, Texas
Coordinates 29°53′6″N93°57′45″W / 29.88500°N 93.96250°W / 29.88500; -93.96250 Coordinates: 29°53′6″N93°57′45″W / 29.88500°N 93.96250°W / 29.88500; -93.96250
Refinery details
Owner(s) Saudi Aramco
Commissioned1902 (1902)
Capacity636,500 bbl/d (101,200 m3/d)
No. of employees1,450

The Motiva refinery is an oil refinery located in Port Arthur, Texas. It is the largest oil refinery in the United States.

Oil refinery industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful products

Oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is transformed and refined into more useful products such as petroleum naphtha, gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel and fuel oils. Petrochemicals feed stock like ethylene and propylene can also be produced directly by cracking crude oil without the need of using refined products of crude oil such as naphtha.

Port Arthur, Texas City in Texas, United States

Port Arthur is a city in Jefferson County within the Beaumont–Port Arthur metropolitan area of the U.S. state of Texas. A small portion extends into Orange County. It is 90 mi (140 km) east of Houston. It is host to the largest oil refinery in the United States.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Contents

The first processing units of the Port Arthur Refinery were constructed in 1902 by the Texas Company, later Texaco. The roots of this refinery can be traced to the Spindletop oil boom near Beaumont, Texas. It came into operation in 1903. Port Arthur is in eastern Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. At certain points during its lifespan it was considered the flagship refinery of Texaco.

Texaco, Inc. is an American oil subsidiary of Chevron Corporation. Its flagship product is its fuel "Texaco with Techron". It also owns the Havoline motor oil brand. Texaco was an independent company until its refining operations merged into Chevron Corporation in 2001, at which time most of its station franchises were divested to the Shell Oil Company. It began as the Texas Fuel Company, founded in 1901 in Beaumont, Texas, by Joseph S. Cullinan, Thomas J. Donoghue, Walter Benona Sharp, and Arnold Schlaet upon the discovery of oil at Spindletop.

Spindletop Oil field in Texas

Spindletop is an oil field located in the southern portion of Beaumont, Texas, in the United States. The Spindletop dome was derived from the Louann Salt evaporite layer of the Jurassic geologic period. On January 10, 1901, a well at Spindletop struck oil. The Spindletop gusher blew for 9 days at a rate estimated at 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day. Gulf Oil and Texaco, now part of Chevron Corporation, were formed to develop production at Spindletop. According to Daniel Yergin, the Spindletop discovery led the United States into the oil age. Prior to Spindletop, oil was primarily used for lighting and as a lubricant. Because of the quantity of oil discovered, burning petroleum as a fuel for mass consumption suddenly became economically feasible.

Beaumont, Texas City in Texas, United States

Beaumont is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, in the United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Southeast Texas on the Neches River about 85 miles (137 km) east of Houston, Beaumont had a population of 117,267 at the time of the 2010 census, making it the thirtieth-most populous city in the state of Texas.

On January 1, 1989, Saudi Refining, Inc. purchased 50% of the Port Arthur refinery (and two others) from Texaco to form a joint venture with Texaco called Star Enterprise. In 2001, Texaco was purchased by Chevron. Shortly thereafter Chevron's interest in this refinery (and two others) was sold to Shell on February 13, 2002. This new joint venture was called Motiva Enterprises LLC. Until recently, the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery was a joint venture with a 50% ownership between Shell Oil Products US and Saudi Refining Inc. Shell Oil Products is part of Royal Dutch Shell. Saudi Refining is part of Saudi Aramco. Approximately 1,200 people are employed at the site.

A joint venture is a business entity created by two or more parties, generally characterized by shared ownership, shared returns and risks, and shared governance. Companies typically pursue joint ventures for one of four reasons: to access a new market, particularly emerging markets; to gain scale efficiencies by combining assets and operations; to share risk for major investments or projects; or to access skills and capabilities.

Chevron Corporation American multinational energy corporation

Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation. One of the successor companies of Standard Oil, it is headquartered in San Ramon, California, and active in more than 180 countries. Chevron is engaged in every aspect of the oil, natural gas, and geothermal energy industries, including hydrocarbon exploration and production; refining, marketing and transport; chemicals manufacturing and sales; and power generation. Chevron is one of the world's largest oil companies; as of 2017, it ranked nineteenth in the Fortune 500 list of the top US closely held and public corporations and sixteenth on the Fortune Global 500 list of the top 500 corporations worldwide. It was also one of the Seven Sisters that dominated the global petroleum industry from the mid-1940s to the 1970s.

Motiva Enterprises, LLC, is a fully owned affiliate of Saudi Refining Inc. and headquartered in Houston, Texas, United States with revenue of $24 billion during fiscal 2004.

In March 2016, the joint venture between Shell and Saudi Aramco was set on course to dissolve, and this refinery is now controlled by Saudi Aramco effective May 1, 2017. [1]

The completion of the expansion of the Port Arthur Refinery, officially celebrated on 31 May 2012, increased its crude oil capacity to 600,000 barrels per day – making it the largest refinery in the US. The expansion added 325,000 barrels per day of capacity. As of May 2016 the refinery has reached a maximum capacity of 636,500 barrels per day. Several of the process units added during the expansion are going through debottlenecking to increase their capacity even further.

This refinery can process a wide range of crude inputs, including tight oil and heavy, sour, and acid crudes.[ citation needed ] Initially, the crude it processed came from Saudi Arabia, but it has since expanded to work with other countries, based on where the oil is available. The refinery supplies gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, and high quality base oils to customers in the US.

Tight oil light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone

Tight oil is light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone. Economic production from tight oil formations requires the same hydraulic fracturing and often uses the same horizontal well technology used in the production of shale gas. While sometimes called "shale oil", tight oil should not be confused with oil shale, which is shale rich in kerogen, or shale oil, which is oil produced from oil shales. Therefore, the International Energy Agency recommends using the term "light tight oil" for oil produced from shales or other very low permeability formations, while the World Energy Resources 2013 report by the World Energy Council uses the terms "tight oil" and "shale-hosted oil".

Heavy crude oil is highly-viscous oil that cannot easily flow to production wells under normal reservoir conditions.

Sour crude oil is crude oil containing a high amount of the impurity sulfur. It is common to find crude oil containing some impurities. When the total sulfur level in the oil is more than 0.5% the oil is called "sour".

2016 Saudi Arabia Acquisition

Four years after Port Arthur underwent its $10 billion expansion, making the facility the biggest producer of gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products in the United States, Saudi Arabia-based Saudi Aramco is poised to become the sole owner of the facility. News organizations reported that Shell and Aramco's joint business venture began to unravel shortly after the multi-billion dollar facility expansion. [2] Reports state that the subsequent increase in operating costs and the 2015 workers strike damaged relations between these oil giants beyond repair. [2]

As per an agreement with Shell, Saudi Aramco will retain Motiva's name, Port Arthur refinery, and 24 distribution terminals. In Texas, Aramco will have the exclusive rights to use Shell brand for gasoline and diesel sales. In return, Shell will walk away with two Louisiana refineries (Convent and Norco), 11 distribution terminals, and a $2.2 billion balancing payment. [3] [4] Energy and Middle East experts speculate that, through acquiring Port Arthur Refinery, Saudi Aramco continues to maintain a dominant presence on the Gulf of Mexico coast. [5]

2015 United Steelworkers Strike

On February 1, 2015 United Steelworks union members went on strike after the union rejected oil producers' (like Shell and ExxonMobil) fifth offer. [6] This event was the first large-scale walkout in the industry in 35 years. Union representatives called on oil companies to improve safety in (an) enforceable way. [7] [8] As a result, for the duration of the strike, Port Arthur Refinery was forced to implement the facility's strike contingency plan, calling for nonunion operators to operate the facility while negotiations continued. [9] Nevertheless, according to local sources, the plant was forced to run at 50% capacity, including several units that were shut down for repairs. [10] In mid-March 2015, representatives from both sides reached a four-year national agreement that ended the country-wide strike. [11]

Effects on public health

A study in the Journal of Occupational Medicine found that workers at Port Arthur refineries were more likely to die from diseases like brain cancer, stomach cancer, leukemia, and other forms of cancer. Furthermore, nonwhite workers were more likely to die at younger ages than white workers. Nonwhite workers also experienced higher proportionate mortality ratios than their white counterparts with regards to deaths from all cancers, and deaths from accidents, suicide, or homicide. White workers had a higher proportionate mortality ratio for prostate cancer than nonwhite workers. [12] However, a different study from the same journal followed a cohort of workers at the Port Arthur refinery and found conflicting evidence that said overall, the workers did not suffer from excess mortality rates compared to other Texas residents. [13]

A study found approximately 36% higher levels of lead in Port Arthur residents compared to Hanover, New Hampshire residents. [14]

A study by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston indicates that Port Arthur residents located around the refinery are four times more likely than Galveston residents to have heart and respiratory conditions, nervous system and skin disorders, headaches and muscle aches, and ear, nose, and throat ailments. [15]

Black residents in the area suffer the most. According to the Texas Cancer Registry, black Jefferson county residents have cancer rates 15% higher than that of their white counterparts, [16] largely due to black communities living closer to Jefferson county's refineries such as Port Arthur than white communities. [17]

Environmental Record

The Motiva Port Arthur refinery released over 15.5 million pounds of criteria pollutants in 2003, making it one of the largest polluters in the area. [18]

The facility releases six airborne chemicals in a residential area that exceeded the Health Effects Screening Levels and are linked to cancer growth and development, including benzene and chloroform. [18]

Despite largely fulfilling the requirements of the Clean Air Act legislation, the refinery experiences a large number of flares and accidental releases that push the emissions levels over regulated amounts. Accidental releases in 2002 resulted in a total of 1,149,069 pounds of toxins put into the air. The refinery also released 8000 pounds of sulfur dioxide in a flare release on April 7, 2002. An accidental release on April 14, 2003, resulted in the emission of 274,438 pounds of air contaminants into the surrounding environment; including 107,280 pounds of hexane and 37,538 pounds of pentane, both of which have severe human health impacts. [18]

Public Opinion

Pro-Industry

In Port Arthur City, some community leaders and residents are supportive of the refinery's presence. Former Mayor Oscar Ortiz believes that Port Arthur's identity and well-being are linked with the refineries that inhabit it. He states, "If industry goes away, people might as well go away too because there'll be no money. That's the continued salvation of this city." Shell Co. underscores this sentiment by stating that its recent multi-billion dollar expansion was a boon for local economy, generating more than $17 billion in regional economic development. According to the oil giant, around 14,500 people worked on the expansion project at peak construction and more than 300 new permanent jobs were created. [19]

Additionally, Port Arthur Refinery and its affiliates provide financial support to local community organizations. [18]

Anti-Industry

Alternatively, some residents disagree with Port Arthur Refinery's local benefits. Concerns over pollution are acute in the local community. Edward Brooks II, a Port Arthur resident says, "They [the government] tell us about the emissions but they don’t do anything about it. They don’t care. Half the kids here need help breathing. A lot of them have breathing machines at home and at school." Additionally, majority of the populations around the refineries come from minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged background and lack resources to move to a less polluted area. [18] However, local community leaders have found ways to find common ground with refinery representatives. Hilton Kelley, another Port Arthur resident, is a prominent leader in the campaign for restrictions on emissions and reparations for medical costs. His approach emphasizes the refineries' local economic importance, but calls on representatives to "clean up their act". After much community organizing and campaigning, Kelley negotiated a $2 million Community Enhancement Agreement with Motiva, to improve housing, social opportunities, and community programs. Kelley sits on the board of directors. [18]

Incidents

Lawsuits

A lawsuit was filed against Motiva Enterprises LLC in 2008 for their pollution of the Alligator Bayou next to the Port Arthur Refinery. The lawsuit yielded a settlement of $1,200,000 for the plaintiffs, the collective group of Texas General Land Office ("GLO"), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department ("TPWD"), and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ("TCEQ") known as the "Trustees".[5]

In January 2015 the US EPA filed a civil lawsuit against Motiva's parent company, Equilon Enterprises, for violations of the Clean Air Act at its many oil refineries, including its Port Arthur facility. The violations included elevated levels of ethanol in gasoline, violations of the gasoline volatility and sulfur standards, violations of the diesel sulfur standards, and numerous recordkeeping, reporting, sampling and testing violations. Equilon Enterprises was required to pay a civil penalty of $900,000.[10]

Accidents

Over the course of 42 years, there have been at least five documented cases of lethal accidents at this refinery. Some accidents that have killed workers include storage tank explosions, a train accident, a bulldozer malfunction, and a falling object.[1] [2] [3] [4] [7]

There have also been at least three documented cases of non-lethal explosions or fires breaking out at the refinery. On the morning of December 8, 2009 an accident caused an explosion in the hydrogen unit run by Praxair Inc. No one was injured.[ 6] In early June 2012, after two fires erupted and a heater broke, workers noticed that caustic vapors had leaked out of a tank and caused widespread accelerated corrosion of pipes and equipment.[8] In late July 2015, a catalytic reformer caught fire. No one was injured.[9]

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References

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  16. Cancer data have been provided by the Texas Cancer Registry, Cancer Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Texas Department of State Health Services, 1100 West 49th Street, Austin, TX 78756, http://www.dshs.texas.gov/tcr/, or (512) 776-3080)
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