Tesoro Eyes Restarting Reformer

Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 05:11 PM gHale

Because of the increase in the global demand for petrochemicals, the largest refiner in the western U.S., Tesoro Corp., is looking at restarting a shuttered reformer at its Northern California refinery.

The Golden Eagle plant near Martinez, CA, has been cleaning out the reformer as San Antonio, TX-based Tesoro decides whether to bring the unit back into service to supply feedstock to chemical plants in markets including Asia, said one source who requested anonymity because the information isn’t public.

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Reformate, traditionally blended by refiners to boost the octane level of gasoline, can also act as a chemical feedstock because it contains high benzene, toluene and xylene levels.

Tina Barbee, a spokeswoman for Tesoro in San Antonio, declined to comment.

Tesoro is considering the return of the Golden Eagle reformer at the same time that it’s developing a $400 million chemical plant at the Anacortes refinery in Washington state to produce mixed xylene for export to Asia. The boost in petrochemical production comes as drillers pull record volumes of oil out of U.S. shale formations that tends to be lighter, and yields more chemicals.

Greg Goff, Tesoro’s chief executive officer, said in a call with analysts Oct. 31 the xylene plant in Washington would get its supply of reformate from the Golden Eagle and Anacortes refineries. The company plans to make a final investment decision on the complex, designed to recover as many as 15,000 barrels a day of mixed xylene, in early 2015 and start service in 2017, he said.

The global market for xylene, used to make polyester fibers and films for clothing, food packaging and beverage containers, is growing by as much as 7 percent a year, Tesoro said in July.

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