HOUSTON, June 7 (Reuters) – LyondellBasell Industries (LYB.N) is planning to shut its Houston oil refinery by the end of next year but that closure could come more quickly if an equipment failure hits major units, according to two people familiar with the company’s operations, heightening stresses on U.S. refining capacity and fuel prices.
In April, the chemical maker said it would cease operating the 263,776-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery by the end of 2023, exiting motor fuels production, citing the cost of needed overhauls.
A premature shutdown – due to a major equipment failure – could heighten the risk of fuel shortages in the United States. The economy’s recovery from pandemic and changing global flows from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed motor fuel prices to record levels.
Lyondell did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
At least five oil-processing plants also shut during the pandemic, leaving the United States structurally short of capacity for the first time in decades.