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Another BRRIC in the Wall - Baton Rouge Refinery Set to Access More Crudes, Boost Exports After Modernization

Fresh on the heels of expanding its Beaumont, TX, refinery into the largest in the country, ExxonMobil announced in January that it had finished yet another project at its century-old Baton Rouge complex in Louisiana. The Baton Rouge Refinery Integrated Competitiveness (BRRIC) project took roughly three years to complete and did not add crude refining capacity, unlike the Beaumont project. Instead, the goal of the $240 million investment was to modernize the crude oil processing plant — the state’s largest — increasing access to competitive crudes and growing markets for its fuels as well as curbing the refinery’s environmental impact. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the BRRIC project and what it means for the Baton Rouge refinery. 

Before we get into the details of the project, let’s take a quick look at the history of the Baton Rouge refinery (see icon in Figure 1 below), which is on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Standard Oil Company of Louisiana (which was a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, or today’s ExxonMobil) brought the plant online nearly 114 years ago after less than a year of construction. The refinery’s capacity started out at about 1.8 Mb/d and is now a whopping 523 Mb/d. It’s also far more complex, with downstream units like cokers and catalytic crackers that break down the gunky stuff (like heavy residual feedstocks) that come out of the main refining process, yielding more consumer products, from lubricants to transportation fuels (see our Baby Break It Down series for more about the refining process). The facility also has desulfurizers and hydrotreaters that strip out sulfur and make products more environmentally friendly. The riverfront site also hosts a chemical complex that produces resins and chemicals used to make everyday items like plastic milk jugs, lightweight appliance and car parts, paint, adhesives, plastic films, synthetic rubber, and disposable diapers.

Baton Rouge Refinery and Selected Crude Oil Pipelines

Figure 1. Baton Rouge Refinery and Selected Crude Oil Pipelines. Source: RBN 

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