Port Arthur Refinery Base Oil Plant Modernisation, United States of America

Motiva Enterprises LLC ,joint venture between Texaco Inc and SaudiAramco announced in 1999 that it had selected Chevron techn for the second phase of the modernisation of base oil plant in Port Arthur Texas.

Port Arthur Refinery increased its competitive standing with the startup of the first commercial catalytic distillation hydrodesulfurisation unit to produce greater volumes of reformulated gasoline to meet tighter emissions restrictions.

The second phase of the lube base oil plant upgrade was completed in 2002 and now Port Arthur Refinery has one of the largest production volumes of lube base oil at a single location, with the highest yield of lube oil per barrel of crude input.

Located on the Gulf Coast, the Port Arthur Refinery was Texaco's first ever refinery. The refinery currently processes more than 240,000bpd of crude oil.

Approximately 1,000 employees and 400 contract workers report to the Port Arthur Refinery each day.


Built in 1903, the Port Arthur Works began with the discovery of an oil gusher just south of Beaumont at Spindletop. The refinery played an important part in the production of high-octane aviation fuel during World War II. In 1989, the refinery became part of Star Enterprise, a joint venture between Texaco and Saudi Aramco. The plant has been operated by Motiva Enterprises since 1998.

The major products of the refinery are gasoline, distillates, jet fuel, lubricant base oils, and chemicals and solvents.

Refining processes include: crude atmospheric and vacuum stilling, hydrotreating, catalytic reforming, delayed coking, fluid catalytic cracking, hydrocracking, lube solvent refining, and lube hydroprocessing, lube hydro-isomerisation, lube propane deasphalting and lube catalytic dewaxing.

More than 95% of the refinery's gasoline and middle distillate products are delivered to its market via pipeline. The refinery ties into three major product pipelines: Colonial, Explorer and Magtex.

The Port Arthur Refinery has two separate docks. Port Neches Terminal is primarily a crude oil dock, while Port Arthur Terminal is primarily a finished product terminal. Approximately 700 vessels are handled at the two terminals yearly.


Motiva was successful in its implementation of the Chevron Isodewaxing technology, which had been so successful in other applications. The construction of Motiva's 15,000bpd lube hydroprocessing facility at Port Arthur completed a successful startup in October 1998.

The second phase of the project (started up in 2001) was able to upgrade Motiva's remaining Group I base oils to high-quality, low-aromatic, high VI Group II/III base stocks and, at the same time, increased the overall plant production to well over 8,000,000 barrels a year of water white Group II/III base oils.


In March 2006 Motiva Enterprises LLC completed its further expansion of the base oil plant at the Port Arthur, Texas refinery (construction began in the third quarter of 2004). The expansion added approximately 15,000bpd capacity of Group II and Group II+ base oils raising the total base oil production capacity at the plant to about 40,300bpd, making it the largest Group II/II+ base oil facility in the world.

William B Welte, Motiva President and chief executive officer said: "Motiva is pleased to invest in a world-class facility that will serve the growing needs of the lubricants industry. Base oils and lubricants are part of a dynamic global market, and Port Arthur is well positioned to serve it."

For the expansion, Motiva constructed a third lube hydroprocessing unit, which upgrades heavy gasoil into high-quality Group II/II+ base oil, using a unit design patented by Motiva. The Motiva Port Arthur Refinery produces six grades of base oil within the Group II/II+ categories.


In September 2007 Jacobs Engineering Group Inc was awarded a contract to proceed with detail design and construction on a new super refinery expansion at Port Arthur, Texas. The expansion has a completion date of 2010 and will add 325,000bpd of refining capacity essentially doubling the size of the current refinery to more than 600,000bpd, making it the largest in the US.

"The Port Arthur Refinery ties into three major product pipelines: Colonial, Explorer and Magtex."

A joint venture of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc and Bechtel Corporation will manage the engineering, procurement, and construction for the facility expansion.

The refinery expansion, which Motiva says is the equivalent of building a new refinery (the first in the US for 30 years), is expected to cost around $7bn. The new refinery will be used to enhance US supplies of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel.

In March 2008 Fluor Corporation announced a $1.9 billion contract for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for the Port Arthur refinery. The work will include the construction of a coker (work already started), a desulphurisation unit, a vacuum distillation unit and other related infrastructure. Fluor has already completed front-end engineering and design (FEED) work for Total at the refinery and will now undertake part self construction of the units and will retain all construction management responsibility. Upon commissioning in 2011, the new refinery units will be able to convert heavy and process sour crude. The refinery’s deep-conversion capacity will be increased allowing the processing of an additional 3 million tons-per-year of ultra-low sulphur automotive diesel. The refinery output will then be increased to about 12 million tons-per-year. New Federal fuel standards are due in 2010 and this project will produce fuel to satisfy them. David Seaton, president of Fluor’s Energy & Chemicals Group, commented: “We are excited to help Total pursue its strategy to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of its large worldwide refining hubs and specifically with this significant Port Arthur project... Our recently completed FEED work for this site, coupled with a previous project for a gasoline hydrotreater at Port Arthur, enhances our ability to fulfil Total’s business and operational objectives for this important project.”


Motiva is a primary supplier of Group II/III base oils to Equilon Enterprises LLC, a joint venture between Texaco Inc. and Shell Oil Company. It was formed in July 1998 as a joint venture petroleum company owned by affiliates of Shell, Texaco and Saudi Aramco.

Motiva Enterprises combines major elements of the companies' Eastern and Gulf Coast US petroleum refining and marketing businesses. At formation, a Shell affiliate owned 35% and Texaco and Saudi Aramco affiliates each held a 32.5% interest in the company.

Equilon's lubricants division, the large marketer of commercial lubricants in the US, uses these base oils to produce a full line of automotive, commercial and industrial lubricant products under the Shell and Texaco brand names. The Port Arthur facility is an important component of the Gulf Coast network.

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