Citing “extreme weather conditions, coupled with the curtailment of natural gas supplies throughout the State of Texas,” ExxonMobil announced Tuesday it is shutting down its Baytown and Beaumont Area facilities.
While manufacturing units are shut down across ExxonMobil Baytown area facilities, units producing electricity remain in operation, according to company spokesman Aaron Stryk.
“Any units that remain in operation are dedicated to exporting electricity back into the grid or to generating the power necessary to keep our people, the community and units safe,” he said.
“Currently we are exporting in excess of 200 megawatts back to the grid, which is enough electricity to power approximately 100,000 homes,” he said early Wednesday afternoon.
“Our primary focus continues to be the safety of employees, contractors and the communities in the region. Until we resume normal operations at our sites, we expect that flaring will continue, which may result in a low rumbling noise, as well as smoke.
“Flares are safety devices that are intended to safely burn off excess hydrocarbons and are functioning as intended. We are conducting continuous fence line monitoring and all results show normal air quality levels.”
Stryk continued, “We are working to minimize any impact on the community, and we apologize for any disruption or inconvenience as a result of the flaring.”
Residents have seen heavy flaring and black smoke above the Baytown facility since Monday.
The company also noted on social media it is using its new ground flare, which may result in a bright glow at ground level.
ExxonMobil filed emission event reports with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Tuesday listing estimated air releases for flares and units at the Baytown Refinery and the Baytown Olefins Plant.
Those reports said, “Loss of utilities including, but not limited to, third party natural gas supply and steam due to severe inclement weather resulted in the shutdown of multiple process units and safe utilization of the flare system.”
The report said, “Available information indicates no adverse impact to the site and the surrounding community.”
Similar reports were filed by Chevron Phillips, Covestro and Enterprise Products and most other area plants.