Exxon shuts Singapore refinery for maintenance
Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:04am ET
SINGAPORE, June 29 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday began shutting its 309,000 barrels per day (bpd) Singapore refinery, the larger of its two facilities in the city state, for a month and a half of routine maintenance, the company said.
The shutdown of the mainland Singapore plant, planned since earlier this year, will last for about seven weeks until the second half of July. Together with Exxon's 296,000-bpd Jurong Island refinery, the Singapore facility is the world's fifth largest such complex.
"ExxonMobil Singapore's Refinery (Jurong site) has commenced the shutdown of several operating units for planned maintenance beginning 29 June, 2007. The overall duration of this maintenance is expected to last about seven weeks," the company said in a statement.
"This is scheduled maintenance. Shutting the units down will provide an opportunity for detailed inspection of equipment normally in continuous operation; routine maintenance; and installation of facility improvement projects."
Industry sources said the crude distillation units (CDUs) and other secondary units at the plant will be taken down in stages.
Oil traders say the turnaround will add support to fuel prices in Asia's main physical oil product trading hub, although it comes after the end of the heaviest second-quarter turnaround season for most South Korean and Japanese refiners, and Exxon can draw supplies from elsewhere in its global system.
The impact may be greatest on the gas oil market, particularly for the benchmark 0.5 percent sulphur grade, which has languished in a discount since end-May as demand waned after major buyers Indonesia and Vietnam moved to lower-sulphur grades.
Fuel oil traders saw limited immediate impact, saying the oil major has already stockpiled enough supplies to meet its term commitments to the marine fuels and cargo markets to end-July.
The impact will come after the turnaround as the oil major has started stockpiling its straight-run fuel oil, which normally would be fed into secondary units, for processing when the units are back up.
"Exxon would probably have more fuel oil after the turnaround as the straight-run parcels will be cracked after the secondary units are back online, adding to its existing volumes," a Singapore-based Western fuel oil trader said.
Little external impact is also expected in the light-distillate market, as most of Exxon's gasoline and naphtha barrels are moved within its own global system, said traders.
The major maintenance overhaul of the plant comes nearly two months after a fire struck Exxon's Jurong Island complex, forcing the company to close a 125,000-bpd CDU for just over two weeks.
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