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ConocoPhillips Said to Restart Belle Chasse, Louisiana, Unit

ConocoPhillips plans to restart the alkylation unit at its Alliance refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, today or tomorrow and return the fluid catalytic cracker to full rates as soon as this weekend, two people familiar with the plant’s operations said.

The 102,000-barrel-a-day catalytic cracker has been running at 60 percent of capacity while repairs were made on a major exchanger associated with the alkylation unit, said the people, who declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak for the refinery. The exchanger has been repaired, the people said.

The catalytic cracker’s rates were cut because the refinery was running short of space to store the feedstocks it was sending to the alkylation unit, the people said.

The units were shut in August for repairs. The catalytic cracker was restarted in late October.

Catalytic crackers are the main gasoline-making units at refineries. Alkylation units produce high-octane components for gasoline blending.

Bill Stephens, a Houston-based spokesman for ConocoPhillips, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

The Alliance refinery, one of two the company has in Louisiana, represents 13 percent of ConocoPhillips’s U.S. refining capacity of 2 million barrels a day, according to the company’s website. The plant has a daily capacity of 247,000 barrels of oil.

The refinery serves the southeastern and eastern U.S. It’s located on the Mississippi River about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of New Orleans, according to the company’s website.

The plant processes mostly light, low-sulfur crude that arrives via pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico and from West Africa through the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port.

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