UPDATE 1-Valero's St. Charles FCC reaches planned rates

Fri Jan 9, 2009 2:59am IST

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NEW YORK Jan 8 (Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) said on Thursday that a 100,000 barrel-per-day fluid catalytic cracker at its refinery in St. Charles, Louisiana, had reached planned rates after its restart this week.

"It's at planned rates," Bill Day, a spokesman for the largest U.S. refiner, said in an email, without specifying what the planned rates were.

The gasoline-making unit at St. Charles was shut in mid-December for repairs and was restarted early Tuesday.

A small 20,000 bpd FCC at the Valero refinery east plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, remained down due to economic reasons, Day said. The unit was brought down early last month.

Last week, he said FCC units at seven other Valero refineries continued to run at lower rates due to weak profit margins from producing motor fuel.

"We haven't provided an update on FCC run rates and probably won't until our earnings conference call at the end of the month," Day added in his email on Thursday.

Gasoline margins have recovered from deep declines, with the February RBOB gasoline crack spread RB-CL1=R at about $4 on Thursday afternoon. (Reporting by Haitham Haddadin; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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