The 12,000-barrel-per-day (BBL/d) HF Alky Unit at Valero Energy Corporation's Texas City refinery in Texas could be shutdown for four to five months, after a fire struck the 225,000-BBL/d oil refinery on April 19.

Also, Valero has accelerated six weeks of planned refinery maintenance, previously scheduled for early January 2019, for the adjacent 88,000-BBL/d fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU), 60,000-BBL/d Gasoline Desulfurizer and the Gas Con units located in the FCC Complex 2 Area 2. These units also were taken down at the time of the fire.

Plant personnel have indicated that the FCCU may stay offline until the HF Alky unit is repaired and returned to operation.

Separately, the Residfiner (GOHT), which was forced to reduce rates on April 25, returned to normal rates on May 1.

Valero reported strong quarterly earnings last month on higher refining throughput and increased distillate margins in first-quarter 2018. Refinery throughput capacity utilization was 94%, averaging 2.9 million barrels per day (BBL/d), which is 93,000 BBL/d higher than first-quarter 2017. Valero exported 271,000 BBL/d of gasoline and distillate exports in the quarter. Industrial Info is tracking more than $3.6 billion in active Valero projects.

In the planning stage is the expansion of the company's refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The project was previously cancelled in 2008 but has now been restarted. Among the projects planned for the refinery is the construction of a 50,000-BBL/d delayed coker unit to produce additional refinery capacity to supply the hydrocrackers. Also on the books is the addition of a sulfur recovery unit at the refinery. The projects have a combined TIV of $900 million and could kick off in the second half of next year.

Valero reported net income of $469 million for first-quarter 2018, compared to $305 million for first-quarter 2017. The Refining segment reported $922 million of operating income, compared with $640 million in first-quarter 2017. The company cited higher distillate margins as one of the primary reasons for this increase.

In the company's conference call, Vice President of Investor Relations John Locke said he expects about $1 billion in growth projects in 2018. Among the capital investments discussed by Chief Executive Officer Joe Gorder was the addition of alkylation units at the company's facilities in Saint Charles, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas. Work at the Houston Refinery started last year.

In less than a week, Industrial Info's Petroleum Refining Industry Project Database recently grew from tracking 6,385 projects worth $658 billion, to 6,397 projects worth $667.4 billion.

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