French oil and gas major TotalEnergies has shut down its refinery in Texas two days after restarting operations following a plant-wide power outage.
The 238,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur refinery was forced to shut down as its struggled to maintain production with its 60,000bpd coker and 35,000bpd reformer, sources close to the matter told Reuters.
Cokers convert residual crude oil into either motor fuel feedstocks or petroleum coke, which can be used as a coal substitute. Reformers convert refining by-products into octane-boosting components used to make premium-grade gasoline.
Port Arthur is one of TotalEnergies’ largest refining and petrochemical platforms. In 2017, the company made investments in its ethylene production capacity by using abundant and cheap US ethane. The site has a refining production capacity of 185,000bpd and a total processing capacity of 238,000bpd.
TotalEnergies experienced a 31% drop in its fourth-quarter earnings, it said in its end-of-year results. It puts the slump down to lower oil and gas prices and lower refining margins compared with the “exceptional” environment seen in 2022, when the company saw record profits following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent global energy crisis.
In its outlook for 2024, the company warned that a weakness in refining margins would impact its earnings. It expects new investments to be between $17bn and $18bn, of which $5bn will be dedicated to its integrated power business, which includes renewables, battery storage and natural gas.
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Elsewhere, the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, which is the largest in the Midwest, will be shut for three weeks due to a power outage. This began earlier this month, and the refinery will have to undergo inspections before it can resume operation. If any problems are discovered, it could stay shut for longer than three weeks.