Exxon expands Texas refinery for lighter crude

Company credits affordable, domestic oil for means for upgrade.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Aug. 4, 2015 at 8:48 AM
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HOUSTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Exxon Mobil said Tuesday it was increasing the capacity for processing light crude oil grades at a Texas refinery in order to exploit gains in U.S. production.

The company announced plans to increase the production capacity at its refinery in Beaumont, Texas, by nearly 6 percent, or 20,000 barrels per day, in an effort to expand its position in the regional shale sector.

"This project will grow our capacity and flexibility to process light crude oils," Jerry Wascom, president of ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Co., said in a statement. "Building on the recent increases in domestic oil and gas production, this investment further strengthens the competitiveness of the company's strategic assets in North America and enhances U.S. energy security."

Total average U.S. crude oil production for the week ending July 24 was 9.4 million barrels per day, an 11.4 percent increase year-on-year. Most of the increase is derived from inland shale basins, like Eagle Ford and Permian in Texas.

Lawmakers and industry supporters are pressing for new policies to reflect the gains in U.S. oil and natural gas production.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in a 12-10 vote, voted last week to repeal a 1970s-era ban on crude oil exports. Committee Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said removing the ban would boost economic strength at home while advancing U.S. national security interests overseas.

A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found some overseas refineries aren't designed to handle the lighter oils from the United States. Domestic refiners, meanwhile, said erasing the ban makes little sense because some U.S. markets would be forced to import more oil if the ban were erased.

"The increase in capacity at the Beaumont refinery is made possible in large part by abundant, affordable supplies of U.S. light crude from shale," Wascom said.

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