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 29 Apr 2009

Shell resumes work at Singapore cracker unit

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Royal Dutch Shell has restarted its 33,000 barrels per day (bpd) gasoline-making unit at its Singapore refinery on schedule following a three-week shutdown, Reuters quoted industry sources as saying Tuesday.

The restart process of the Long Residue Catalytic Cracker (LRCC) in the 500,000-bpd Bukom refinery, which had been shut due to catalyst problems in early April, began on Monday and is expected to complete on Tuesday.

A Shell spokesman said the company does not normally comment on operational matters.

"The unit was restarted on Monday and it usually takes about two days to bring it back up to full capacity. That should happen by today, barring any unexpected problems," a refinery source said.

Shell bought a total 650,000 barrels of 97-octane gasoline from February to April from the Singapore cash market to fill the supply gap due to the shutdown. The major has since wound down its purchases for May as the unit restarted.

The purchases by Shell and BP totalling 2.15 million barrels had helped to support the Singapore gasoline market, sending crack spreads -- premiums/losses from refining Brent crude into the autofuel -- to above a premium of $8.00 a barrel in the last three weeks, before easing.

The LRCC, which cracks straight-run residues into higher-value products such as gasoline, had also suffered an outage more than a year ago, resulting in a four-month shutdown.

At the time, a mechanical component, known as the cyclone, in the unit, had melted due to excessive temperatures and needed to be replaced.







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