BEAUMONT, Texas — A $2 billion Beaumont refinery expansion project is expected to boost fuel supply and help meet the growing demand for affordable and reliable energy.
On Thursday, ExxonMobil announced the startup of its Beaumont refinery expansion project. The project is expected to add 250,000 barrels per day of capacity to one of the largest refining and petrochemical complexes along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The project makes the refinery one of the largest in the country. A 12News crew was given rare access inside the Beaumont Light Atmospheric Distillation Expansion, or BLADE.
"This expansion is the equivalent of a medium-sized refinery and is a key part of our plans to provide society with reliable, affordable energy products," Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Product Solutions said. “The new crude unit enables us to produce even more transportation fuels at a time when demand is surging."
The expansion is the largest refinery expansion since 2012, according to an ExxonMobil release. It is supported by the company’s growing crude production in the Permian Basin and is set to help meet growing demands for affordable, reliable energy.
"We broke ground in 2019, for this phenomenal $2 billion project,” Rozena Dendy, plant manager, said. “And even through a pandemic, we continue to lean into this project when others were taking a step back."
The company has hired more than 50 full-time employees to help with the operation of the expanded refinery. Company officials said the expansion is well executed from design to startup and that the global project comes online on time and on budget."
“ExxonMobil maintained its commitment to the Beaumont expansion even through the lows of the pandemic, knowing consumer demand would return and new capacity would be critical in the post-pandemic economic recovery,” McKee said.
Once completed, the expansion is expected to increase total processing capacity to more than 630,000 barrels per day, making it one of the largest refineries in the United States.
Officials said the refinery is connected to pipelines from ExxonMobil’s operations in the U.S. Permian Basin. This provides the company with "significant strategic advantages."
Permian crude oil is processed at the Beaumont refinery. Dendy explained how crude oil goes through their machines.
“We bring it into our atmospheric tower here, and then we boil it to where at different boiling points material comes off of it,” Dendy said. “So what we do after that is we hydrotreat it."
The is 250,000 tons of heavy machinery that helps produce more diesel and gasoline. The fuel then helps Southeast Texans get some of our everyday needs.
“This is about how our kids get around on the school bus, and that they are able to use diesel,’ Dendy said. “How do our amazon packages get to our homes? With the trucks that actually bring it there, as well as food to the 18- wheelers that the use diesel as well.”
The company’s extensive project management experience enabled the new crude and hydrotreater units to start up according to the planned cost and schedule. As the new facility started operations slowly Thursday, safety is still on top of minds for team members.
“Safety is the first and foremost of everything we do,” Dendy said. “Our emergency response team has already drilled in this responses and drilled emergencies."
The facility is expected to be at full capacity by March 31, 2023.