Movers and SHAKERS
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The Explosion and Fire at the ExxonMobil Plant in Texas May Have Lasting Impact
The ExxonMobil explosion has the potential to impact fuel prices through this winter or longer. The Baytown refinery complex in Texas is one of the largest integrated refinery and petrochemical facilities in the US. This is a “major industrial accident” according to the local Sheriff’s office, as there are multiple injuries and evidence that the plant, which has been in operation since 1920, may be severely crippled.
The refinery, which is about 25 miles east of Houston, houses a chemical plant, an olefins plant, and an oil refinery that has the capacity to produce 584,000 barrels a day (bpd). Total U.S. production in 2020 was 16.5 million bpd, which is higher than any other country. Although it is unclear what the production rate was at the time of the explosion and fire, any reduction in output is likely to put upward pressure on refined oil prices. Oil futures that had been trading lower prior to the explosion rose slightly hours after the early morning explosion. Also trading up pre-market are small producers such as North American-based InPlay Oil (IPOOF, IPO:CA), and overseas Indonesia Energy (INDO).
The plant also produces olefins. Olefins are used in finished petroleum products as building blocks to plastics, adhesives, and detergents. Olefins also provide octane to gasoline. Most olefins are highly flammable.
ExxonMobil said its emergency response teams were still working to extinguish the fire, and "our first priority is people in the community and in our facilities." The company also said, "We are saddened to inform that four people were injured and are receiving medical treatment. All other personnel have been accounted for."
According to ExxonMobil, its industrial hygiene team is monitoring air quality at the site and fence line, and that "available information shows no adverse impact at this time." It also informed, "We are coordinating with authorities as appropriate. We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience this may have caused the community."
The Baytown refinery began operations in 1920, with the chemical plant opening in 1940. The facility is located along the Houston Ship Channel on about 3,400 acres of land and employs about 7,000 people. The company website describes the Baytown facility as "one of the largest integrated and most technologically advanced refining and petrochemical complexes in the world." Taking the plant’s production offline may have a long-term impact on fuel prices, chemical supply chains, and the many businesses impacted by these.
Managing Editor, Channelchek
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