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  • 2023 June 4 12:22

    US refineries face operational, workforce risks from delayed planned maintenance - S&P Global

    Delayed maintenance schedules tighten labor market, Hurricane, storm-related shutdowns impact operations

    The coronavirus pandemic may be officially over, but the longer-term impacts are lingering in the US refining sector, which has seen a spate of accidents over the past nine months. Some industry players put the onus of recent refining accidents and emissions events on plant maintenance delayed by the coronavirus in 2020, compounded by a return of demand in 2021 as lockdowns ended, S&P Global reported.

    As the US economy began to reopen in late 2021 from coronavirus-related lockdowns, rapidly rising demand in 2022 pushed refiners to operate at record high utilization rates to meet demand and make up for US refinery capacity closed by the pandemic, pushing out turnaround schedules into 2023 for many US refiners.

    "And now you've got this real cluster of shutdowns and turnarounds," said Mike Smith, chair of the National Oil Bargaining Program for the United Steelworkers, in a May 30 interview.

    "Now that we are seeing this turnaround cycle, obviously it's a dangerous time shutting down, starting up units, but it's a necessity. And I believe it's definitely needed and we need to do it safely," he said.

    "Now you have refineries and plants that may not have had the maintenance necessary. And now they are running more than they normally ran for months and years at a time. So I think the plants are sending a message to us that they need maintenance," he added.

    Heavy Q1 refining maintenance
    Virtually every US refiner has attributed their heavier-than-normal turnaround schedule in the first half of 2023 to return-to-normalized turnaround schedules disrupted by the pandemic.

    US independent refiner PBF Energy said on its first quarter results call that it conducted extensive planned turnarounds and work across its six-refinery system in Q1. And plans to conduct extensive maintenance and multiple turnarounds for the remainder of 2023, moving forward to a more a normalized turnaround schedule in 2024.

    "And now that we are seeing this turnaround cycle obviously it's a dangerous time shutting down, starting up units. But it's a necessity and I believe it's definitely needed and we need to do it safely," Smith added.

    Turnarounds and planned maintenance at US refineries are often scheduled years in advance and orchestrate hundreds of refinery workers with thousands of contract workers to complete the task, said Smith. The USW represents about 30,000 workers in refineries, pipelines, petrochemical plants and terminals across the United States.

    And by the nature of the business, refinery incidents are bound to happen.

    "Refineries are very complex, running 24 hours per day at high pressures and high temperatures. No matter how good the safety procedures are [and US refineries put a high degree of importance on safety], accidents are inevitable," said John Auers, managing director of Refined Fuels Analytics, the downstream affiliate of RBN Energy.

    "Most of the time it is due to some human error, in many cases a series of errors. I don't think four fatal incidents over the past year define a pattern," he added.

2023 September 29

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17:44 Terminal Cuenca del Plata investing $600 million Montevideo port expansion
17:25 EC Commission leads common efforts to improve state of Baltic Sea
16:36 New W-MAX Class LNG carrier for Petronas LNG delivered
16:04 Van Oord appoints new CFO
15:44 MOL takes delivery of very large LPG/ammonia carrier from Namura Shipbuilding
15:24 Vale and Petrobras sign Protocol of Intent to accelerate the development of low-carbon solutions
14:48 Skarv Shipping orders 4 short-sea low-carbon, multipurpose vessels
14:24 bound4blue to install three suction sails on Ville de Bordeaux
13:21 Port of London welcomes the world’s first methanol-fuelled container vessel
12:51 MacGregor to deliver a large order of RoRo equipment for two of the world´s first Pure Car and Truck Carriers using methanol
12:31 NYK to trial mooring system to suppress hull shaking with JERA and Trelleborg Marine Systems
12:14 Development Way arrives at Nakhodka Bay to start construction of chemical terminal
11:52 Praxis Automation receives an order from Rawabi Vallianz Offshore Services to equip the entire offshore fleet with dynamic positioning systems
11:25 Arkhangelsk and Olya seaports increased their throughput in 8M’23 by 58% YoY
11:15 Singapore named “Best Global Seaport” and “Best Seaport in Asia”
11:01 United Shipbuilding Corporation conducts audit of previously signed contracts
10:52 MABUX: Bunker Weekly Outlook, Week 39, 2023
10:44 ClassNK updates "Guidelines for Fuel Cell Power Systems On Board Ships"
10:20 Kalmar to supply Rotterdam Short Sea Terminals with six hybrid straddle carriers
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2023 September 28

18:07 ABS, Crowley agree to jointly explore advance augmented reality technology for maritime
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17:41 FESCO increased cargo transportation between Commercial Port of Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by 6% YTD
17:13 Samskip and Boluda Lines join forces to launch new Spain-Ireland-UK service
17:00 Sakhalin-2 is ready to become a centre of competence for integrated field development
16:12 China ports container volume rises 4.8% from January to August 2023
16:06 Andrey Kostin asked RF Minister of Finance to “plug old financial holes” in USC
15:44 WinGD wins first approval in principle for ammonia two-stroke engine
15:23 Vopak repurposes existing infrastructure to support energy transition in California
14:53 VSE Corporation announces mutual agreement to terminate the sale of the VSE Federal and Defense segment to Bernhard Capital Partners
14:25 Sakhalin Energy enters into tripartite safety and security agreement
14:03 New Ro-Ro Vessel arrives at Shuwaikh Port following launch of Ro-Ro shipping service from Khalifa Port
13:56 CMA CGM orders eight methanol-fuelled containerships at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding
13:32 China Classification Society issues the first factory approval certificate for the marine methanol dual-fuel boilers
13:12 LR approves first methanol fuel cell system to be installed on an Italian yacht
12:55 Key focus of Day 1 of Global Fishery Forum & Seafood Expo Russia was on promotion of Russian products to various markets
12:41 Fincantieri delivers the third PPA “Raimondo Montecuccoli” in Muggiano
12:13 Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding signs a contract for the construction of eight methanol-powered 9,200 TEU containerships
11:23 CHIMBUSCO introduces two new marine methanol fuel bunkering group standards with completion of China’s first green methanol refueling technology chain
11:22 Glavgosexpertiza approves Phase 1 of infrastructure facilities reconstruction in Sakhalin based port of Korsakov
10:43 Brunvoll picks Leclanche to provide battery storage system for Norwegian ferry
10:29 Diana Shipping announces the order of two 81,200 dwt methanol dual fuel Kamsarmax dry bulk vessels
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09:55 Baltic Hub handled its 20-millionth container
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2023 September 27

18:06 Mawani wins two awards at LTA 2023
17:57 Russia expanded fish exports geography to 80 countries this year
17:43 HAROPA PORT to create a new multimodal platform, 40 km from Paris
17:33 Russian Maritime Register of Shipping shares its business agenda at NEVA-2023
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17:12 Sener develops the conceptual and basic engineering of two vessels with carbon capture systems for Grona Shipping
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15:39 QatarEnergy signs new LNG ship-building agreement valued at QR14.2 billion with HD Hyundai Heavy Industries
15:39 Amur Shipyard launches two small missile ships of Project 22800, Rzhev and Udomlya
14:45 Value Maritime сompletes first filtree system installation in China for Ardmore Shipping
14:13 GTT receives an order from Jiangnan Shipyard for the tank design of two new LNG сarriers
13:13 GTLK: fully operational ship repair complex in Murmansk Region to dock 90 ships per year
12:41 ABS grants AiP to Samsung Heavy Industries for cyber resilience
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11:41 ABS and AL Group to study Ultramax bulker methanol fuel conversion
11:38 Investments in Rosmorport’s ship repair base in the port of Ust-Luga is estimated at RUB 4 billion
11:05 Equinor and OMV agree new long-term gas sales agreement
10:55 PortNews Media Group welcomes to visit its stand at VI Global fishery forum & seafood expo Russia
10:40 Enova provides NOK 709 million in support for emission-free maritime transport
10:09 Galp takes final investment decision on green hydrogen and HVO/SAF projects
09:36 Ship repair companies are ready to unite in an association