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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 23

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2023 September 22

19:41 IAA PortNews’ summary of past week news
18:00 PETRONAS, MOL and MISC to jointly develop LCO2 carriers for CCS projects
17:06 Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Shanghai unveil Implementation Plan Outline for first trans-Pacific green shipping corridor
16:32 Workers protest against HHLA’s partial sale to MSC
16:25 ZIM offers direct service between WCSA and Savannah
16:07 Exports of Russian fish products in 8M’23 increased by 4% YoY to 1.4 million tonnes
15:49 Construction begins on Crowley-ESVAGT wind farm service vessel
15:21 APM Terminals Apapa – Ibdan rail connection opens for congestion-free business
14:51 Ascenz Marorka weather routing solution to equip the entire fleet of Clean Products Tankers Alliance
14:22 Guangzhou Port Group and Jiangsu Port Group sign a strategic cooperation framework agreement
13:59 Throughput of port Shanghai (China) in 8M’2023 rose by 10% YoY
13:41 A.P. Moller – Maersk opens new warehouse in Douala, Cameroon
13:12 Samsung Heavy Industries develops laser high-speed welding robot for LNG vessels
12:54 Container throughput of Hong Kong port (China) in 8M’2023 fell by 15% YoY
12:31 Seaside LNG joins SEA-LNG coalition
12:20 Project on modernization of Nikolayevsk-on-Amur port included in Khabarovsk PDA
12:11 Zulu Associates contracts Conoship International to design the autonomous zero-emission shortsea vessel ‘Zulu Mass’
11:40 Royal Caribbean completes 12 consecutive weeks of biofuel testing in Europe
11:10 FERC approves the permit authorizing the Port Arthur LNG Phase 2 expansion project
10:43 Mawani and Saudi Investment Recycling Company sign green deal
10:12 Port of Oakland container volume down 13.1% in August 2023
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09:24 Domestic equipment for a-Navigation to be installed on bilge water removing ship under construction at Okskaya Shipyard
09:03 CSSC Huangpu Wenchong secures feeder pair from CK Line

2023 September 21

18:13 Vertom welcomes 3rd methanol/hydrogen-ready electric bulker
17:50 Annual coal exports from Russia may grow by 28% to 252 million tonnes by 2030
17:21 Bahri and Saudi Ports Authority ink sustainability agreements
16:58 Yakutia to obtain shares of Zhatai Shipyard JSC if the shipyard construction is completed in 2024
16:34 PEMA and ICHCA sign MoU to advance sustainable practices and safety standards in the cargo handling sector
15:56 Rosatom estimates future demand for ice class ships intended for operation on NSR
15:09 Greek-flagged ship is the first LNG dual fuel VLCC to join the Green Award programme
14:42 Europe's ports express concern about first signs of carbon and business leakage ahead of the start of the EU ETS for the maritime sector
14:37 First Container Terminal starts handling containerships of China - Sri Lanka – Russia line
14:13 COSCO SHIPPING and State Power Investment sign a Memorandum of Cooperation Agreement
13:41 Melbourne’s VICT welcomes the largest container vessel ever to dock in Australia
13:15 Contract awarded to Royal IHC for the maintenance of three auxiliary vessels of the Royal Netherlands Navy
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11:46 China’s first green marine methanol industrial chain cooperation project officially launched
11:17 Cemre Shipyard holds keel laying and steel cutting ceremony of Little Minch ferries
10:59 Coastal shipping between Kaliningrad and the ports of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region is carried out by 12 operators
10:51 MSC confirms orders to Fincantieri for two new hydrogen-powered ships to join Explora Journeys’ fleet
10:13 New study highlights Freeport East could become key centre for driving transport decarbonisation and maritime green corridors
09:41 Hydrographic Company to increase its annual scope of NSR survey to 100 thousand km by 2027

2023 September 20

18:07 The seaport of Kiel reached the mark of one million cruise passengers in one season for the first time
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16:25 THE Alliance announces Transpacific-North West Coast change
16:02 Throughput of port Kaliningrad can reach 8.9 million tonnes in 2023
15:39 Freire Shipyard holds keel laying for maintenance support vessel
15:14 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey releases roadmap to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
14:59 Oil export shipments from CPC rose by 9% by mid-September
14:40 NYK participates in environmental initiative to reduce methane emissions
14:05 ABS issues AIP for an offshore hydrogen/ammonia production platform from KRISO
13:46 Rosmorport to approve design for modernization of two icebreakers to meet cruise tasks
13:44 MOL Drybulk, Kambara Kisen sign basic agreement on time charter for newbuilding methanol dual fuel bulk carrier
12:44 Partners support emission reductions on Rotterdam-Singapore Green & Digital Shipping Corridor
12:21 Baltic Fleet's corvette Stoikiy conducts missile firing in Baltic Sea
12:13 Fluxys Belgium, Pipelink, Socofe and SFPIM join forces in CO₂ network operator “Fluxys c-grid”
11:40 IUMI calls for industry-wide cooperation and knowledge sharing as shipowners move toward net-zero
11:22 Severnaya Verf: Russian shipyards are in unequal competitive conditions with Chinese and Turkish ones
11:00 KPI OceanConnect and Uni-Tankers collaborate on successful biofuel trial
10:30 OCI Global secures green methanol bunker licence in Egypt's Port Said
10:07 Konecranes wins 8 RTG order for a new container terminal in Colombia in drive for sustainable globalization