* CDU may be shut 4-6 mths after extensive damage-IIR Energy
* Refinery sources last week expected 3 month shutdown
* Chevron gives no timeline, says other units operating
NEW YORK, Aug 13 The sole crude distillation
unit at Chevron Corp's large Richmond, California,
refinery may be shut for at least four to six months after last
week's fire, industry intelligence group IIR Energy said in a
report that suggests the outage may be twice as long as feared.
Investigators have found "extensive damage" in the cooling
towers, pipe racks and heater tower, IIR Energy told clients on
Neither Chevron nor investigators have given any timeline
for resuming full operations at the 245,000-barrel-per-day
plant, California's second largest, following an Aug. 6 fire at
its crude unit that caused a spike in regional gasoline prices.
A Chevron spokesman on Monday reiterated only that the No. 4
crude oil unit -- the only one at the plant -- was still shut
down while other parts of the plant were operating.
Sources at the refinery said last week the unit could be
shuttered for up to three months. The fire erupted at a pump
leaking a substance similar to diesel, according to a
preliminary report the company filed with county pollution
regulators last week.
IIR Energy, which employees hundreds of researchers to
gather operational information, first hand, about industrial
facilities across the world, said that Chevron had not yet
decided whether it would continue to operate some secondary
units that are running down on-hand feedstock inventories.
Chevron could buy intermediate feed from the market,
although in most cases it is difficult for a refiner that has
shut down its crude unit to secure enough of this type of oil to
keep producing motor fuels at the same rate. Last week, the
plant was producing gasoline at over 50 percent capacity,
The fire damaged the only atmospheric tower on the CDU, the
unit that begins converting crude oil to motor fuel. The CDU
makes feedstock for all other units at the refinery.
The blaze, which broke out as workers and the refinery's
fire department were evaluating a leak at the pump, sent 949
area residents to an area hospital complaining of respiratory
problems and eye irritation among other symptoms.