Downstream

Valero shuts McKee refinery in Houston for at least 2 weeks

Valero 1Q results

Valero Energy Group has closed operations at its McKee refinery for planned work. Although a formal announcement by the company has not been made, the closure is expected to lift in around two weeks from now.

According to the sources familiar with the Houston-based refinery, the shut of operations was not only at the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) but also at other units of the complex, such as the hydrocracker and the reformer units.

The closure happened this Sunday, and shuts around of 195,000 barrels per day of crude distillation capacity; 30,000 barrels per day of hydrocracking capacity, and 28,000 barrels per day of reforming capacity.

According to Reuters, “A Valero representative was not immediately available to discuss operations at the McKee refinery.”

McKee’s complex was awarded in 2019 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Site for its “best-in-class environmental performance through reliability, operational excellence, and investments in renewable energy.

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Valero’s refinery powered by renewables

It is also one of the few refining units to be powered by renewables; since 2009, McKee’s complex is powered by 50 megawatts of wind power; enough to run the entire facility under optimal wind conditions.

It produces gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, carbon black oil, sulfur, sulfuric acid and liquified petroleum gas, which are exported by pipelines and rail to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Mexico.

It has a workforce of 437 employees which would be affected by the closure. Although there is no official announcement, there are some fears that the closure at McKee is due to other factors, than remodeling works.

Earlier this year, McKee was operating at 62% of its original capacity due to the strike of the pandemic. It was producing nearly 130,000 barrels per day, and the reductions were expected to continue all along 2020.

The announcement echoes with other closures at the downstream business such as Shell’s Convent. In November, the International Energy Agency announced that more than 1 million barrels day of refining capacity had been closed due to the pandemic.

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