Upgrading the port arthur refinery in the united states


A major upgrade was carried out at our Port Arthur refinery between 2008 and 2011 to improve the conversion of heavy crudes. With the completion of the project, the facility has increased its processing of heavier crude and its output of lighter products in compliance with environmental standards.

The Challenge: Supplying the United States with Lighter Automotive Fuels

Three factors influenced the decision to conduct a sweeping upgrade of our Port Arthur refinery:

  • Regional availability of attractively priced heavy crude oil.
  • Increasing demand for high-quality, more eco-friendly automotive fuel.
  • Declining demand for heavy fuels.

Located in Texas’ "Golden Triangle," close to the oil and gas fields of the Gulf of Mexico, Port Arthur supplies the main retailers in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

Technology: Dedicated Units to Process Heavier Crude and Produce Low-Sulfur Products


A worker taking a product sample for a quality
test in the coker at the Port Arthur refinery
in Texas, in the United States.

Between 2008 and 2011, several new units were installed and existing units modernized, bringing in the best available technology for lower emissions and higher energy efficiency. The new units include:

  • A sulfur recovery complex that dramatically increases the refinery’s sulfur removal capacity, to produce cleaner burning fuels.
  • A deep conversion unit, known as a coker, that improves the processing of heavy crudes, converting them into lighter products and coke, a solid residue resembling coal.
  • A new distillate hydrotreater that produces ultra low sulfur diesel, which is an environmentally friendly product that is increasing in demand in the United States and worldwide.
  • A new vacuum distillation unit.

The BASF Total Petrochemicals (BTP) joint-venture facility adjacent to the refinery provides many synergies. The BTP site includes a world scale steam cracker that produces about 1 million tons per year of ethylene and 500 million tons per year of propylene, and also has a butadiene extraction unit. Integration of the refinery with the BTP site delivers synergies in terms of optimized refining and petrochemical feed streams and utilities.

Safety and Environmental Protection: Working Alongside Local Stakeholders

The Port Arthur upgrade project has enabled us to offer low-sulfur fuels that reduce our customers’ environmental footprint. A total of 22.5 million million barrels of ultra-low sulfur diesel was produced in 2012, in strict compliance with environmental standards.

Listening to stakeholders, such as elected officials, community associations and the media, and addressing all of their questions were priorities throughout the project. Community Advisory Panels worked to identify the expectations of stakeholders and familiarize them with industrial issues. As a result, the project took place in a climate of mutual trust.

Port Arthur at a Glance

Three Key Figures

  • The refinery has a capacity of 63.5 million barrels per year.
  • The site has 36 units, including both refining assets and assets with the steam cracker.
  • Together, the new units represented a multi-billion dollar investment.

Three Milestones

  • 2008: Total announces the $2.2 billion project to upgrade the refinery’s production.
  • 2010: The distillate hydrotreater unit producing ultra low-sulfur diesel is brought on stream.
  • 2011: The upgraded complex is fully operational.
  • Fostering Constructive Relationships With Stakeholders

  • Refining & Chemicals Business Segment

  • Worldwide Presence