Port Arthur crane collapse

A crane collapse at Port Arthur refinery on Tuesday knocked out power to one of the plant’s vacuum distillation units.

Nobody injured in Tuesday’s crane accident, which is the 2nd at the project trying to make the Motiva refinery the largest in the United States by early 2012.

The unit was shut as workers were trying to bring the vacuum distillation unit, called a pipestill, under control after the crane collapse took out electrical power lines on Tuesday, according to the filing.

A vacuum distillation unit is one of the units that does the initial refining of crude oil at a refinery.

"Emergency steps were taken to stabilize unit operations including isolating electrical power supply … Took steps to stabilize unit operations including shutting the unit down to minimize flaring."

A Motiva representative was not available for comment on Wednesday.

The crane was lifting pipes for the crude capacity project when it fell backward across electric lines on Tuesday, according to sources.

"They dodged a bullet," said one of the sources about Tuesday’s accident.

In an April 2010 crane accident on the Motiva project, one worker was killed.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed on Wednesday it had launched an investigation into the latest crane collapse.

Motiva is working to complete the expansion by early 2012 that will lift the refinery’s crude capacity from 285,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 600,000 bpd, making it the largest U.S. refinery

On Tuesday, a Motiva spokeswoman said the expansion would continue as scheduled.

The $5-billion project, begun in 2007, was stopped for over a year in late 2008 due to concerns by Motiva partner Saudi Aramco about the cost and management of the expansion. Work resumed in 2009.

Motiva is a joint-venture between Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco.

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