Exxon Torrance crane collapse shakes
refinery operations, sale: sources
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[June 21, 2016]
By Liz Hampton and Erwin Seba
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A 300-ton crane at a
Torrance, California, refinery that Exxon Mobil Corp plans to sell fell
onto a portion of a gasoline unit at the plant, industry sources said on
Three workers escaped with minor injuries as the crane toppled
over while lifting a reactor top for the 100,000 barrel per day
(bpd) gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at
the 149,500 bpd refinery.
The damage to piping, the crane and time needed to clear it away
could delay by weeks the refinery reaching 15 straight days of
normal operations as required by the sales agreement signed in
September with PBF Energy, which is to pay $537.5 million for the
PBF was "working with Exxon to understand the impact of today's
incident on refinery operations," PBF spokesman Michael Karlovich
said. "We continue assessing Torrance refinery operations and will
update our prior statements on the transaction if and when
Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler said the sale was on track.
"Change in control still remains mid-2016," Spitler said in an
Spitler also said operations at the refinery were normal following
the crane's collapse at about 9:30 a.m. PDT (1630 GMT) on Monday.
Following the collapse, the refinery's safety flare system was
tripped at 9:39 a.m., according to a notice Exxon filed with the
South Coast Air Management District.
"The Torrance refinery submitted an unplanned flaring notification
to the South Coast Air Quality Management District due to a
breakdown in some units," Spitler said. "The unplanned flaring
notification was unrelated to the crane incident. Operations are
normal; no impact to production."
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The flaring was the result of breakdowns in some units, Spitler
Energy industry intelligence service Genscape said the refinery
appeared to be operating normally following the flaring.
Sources familiar with refinery operations said it was unclear when
the FCCU would resume full production and continues to operate at
Wholesale gasoline prices jumped 5 cents a gallon to sell at 20
cents a gallon over July NYMEX gasoline futures in the Los Angeles
market, traders said on expectations gasoline production remained
cut back at Torrance.
Most sale agreements like that between Exxon and PBF expire six
months after the deadline, which the companies said was the second
quarter of this year.
The FCCU restarted in early May after being shut for 15 months
following a fire and explosion in February 2015.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton, Erwin Seba in Houston; Jessica
Resnick-Ault and Jarrett Renshaw in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr
and Leslie Adler)
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