A fire yesterday at Chevron Corp.’s El Segundo refinery, California’s largest, damaged equipment associated with the plant’s fluid catalytic cracker, a person with knowledge of the refinery’s operations said.
The blaze, which ignited at around 6 p.m. local time, damaged the selective catalytic reduction plant, a unit that removes particulates from gas produced by the catalytic cracker, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
The El Segundo refinery, south of Los Angeles, can process 279,000 barrels of feedstock a day, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It supplies 40 percent of the jet fuel to Los Angeles International Airport and 20 percent of the region’s gasoline, San Ramon, California-based Chevron said on its website.
An “incident” in one of the refinery’s process units caused a power failure at the plant yesterday, resulting in the slowdown of several units, Rod Spackman, a Chevron spokesman at the refinery, said by e-mail. The upset occurred while the plant was preparing the unit for planned maintenance, he said.
Aside from maintenance and the unit involved, the refinery is running normally, Spackman said.
“There was no significant fire at the refinery, and there was nothing that would impact the process unit,” Spackman said in a later telephone interview. He declined to comment on whether yesterday’s incident damaged equipment at the plant.
The refinery’s fluid catalytic cracker was scheduled to shut for a 54-day maintenance turnaround that included work on the alkylation unit, a person with direct knowledge of the plans said Dec. 7.
Alkylation units produce a high-octane blending component for gasoline. Fluid catalytic crackers process vacuum gasoil into gasoline or lighter crude products.
The El Segundo Fire Department responded to an incident at the refinery at about 5:56 p.m. local time yesterday, Richard Guyer, a battalion chief for the department, said by telephone today. The plant extinguished “a small ground fire” and was flaring gases after pressure built up in a unit and a cap dislodged, he said.
The incident ended at about 8:06 p.m. local time, he said. Guyer said it wasn’t clear whether the fire was extinguished at that time or whether the plant stopped flaring gases.
“The flare and the fire were all the same, really,” he said. “The fire was contributing to the flare activity.”
The El Segundo refinery reported a “failure” at the fluid catalytic cracker yesterday at 6 p.m. local time and planned to flare gases until Jan. 23, notices to state and air regulators show.