Beaumont Light Atmospheric Distillation Expansion (BLADE) project

In January 2019, ExxonMobil announced plans for an expansion of the facility to increase light crude refining capacity by more than 65%, or 250,000 barrels per day. 

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Beaumont Light Atmospheric Distillation Expansion (BLADE) project


The Beaumont Light Atmospheric Distillation Expansion Project (or BLADE project, for short) will expand light crude refining, supported by crude production in the Permian Basin. BLADE consists of a third crude unit within the Beaumont Refinery’s existing footprint – increasing production of diesel fuel and enhancing the Beaumont Refinery’s position as a leader in the United States. 

Since May 2020, ExxonMobil has worked with the Port of Beaumont to accept industrial equipment and process modules, and transport them to the project site via barge to be set on foundations. In November 2020, six furnace modules and more than 120 components arrived at the Port of Beaumont via the RedBox AUDAX vessel, which is more than two football fields long. The largest of the furnaces was more than 103 feet tall, 80 feet long, and weighed more than two million pounds. 

In February 2021, the RedBox PUGNAX vessel arrived at the Port of Beaumont carrying eight additional process modules, weighing more than 7,000 metric tons in total. In April 2021, the RedBox AUDAX vessel arrived at the Port of Beaumont carrying the final eight process modules to be delivered to the site, weighing more than 8,500 metric tons. The Port of Beaumont has handled nearly 25,000 metric tons of cargo for the project. Transporting a significant amount of equipment and material via the Neches River to the Port of Beaumont minimizes community impact and reduces the number of construction trucks traveling through neighboring communities.

As of May 2021, all modules, towers and buildings have been erected at the project site. The project has had excellent performance to date and incredible support from the local community and we are forecasting approximately two million work hours in Beaumont through time of start-up. 

In early 2021, Gene Weber, senior project manager for BLADE spoke with BIC Magazine to share how the expansion will strongly position both ExxonMobil and Southeast Texas.

Heavy Haul 

Watch as this 425-foot tall crane lifts the atmospheric fractionator tower for our expansion project onto its foundation. The tower is nearly 300 feet tall and weighs more than two million pounds. The lift took more than two hours, but watch the time-lapse below to see the lift in little over a minute.

Furnace Transport 

In late 2020, we moved six large furnaces for our refinery expansion project from the Port of Beaumont to our project site. The largest of these modules was more than 103 feet tall, 80 feet long and weighs more than 2 million pounds. After being barged to our roll-on, roll-off dock, the equipment was transported across Gulf States Road on self-propelled modular transport vehicles (SPMTs). Once the unit is operational, the furnaces will heat crude oil and other feedstocks to make finished products, including diesel fuel.

Safety highlights and awards 

ExxonMobil is committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors, and our goal is a workplace free of occupational injury and illness and a performance free of accidents. A strong safety culture has been established at BLADE, and leadership strives to display the five key BLADE behaviors – act, courage, care, respect and recognize – every day. 

  • More than 4 million hours worked to date, no injuries have occurred on the project that required treatments beyond first aid. To date, there has been no transmission of COVID-19 on the job site. 
  • The BLADE project has received numerous safety recognition and awards to date, including:
    • 2019 and 2020 ExxonMobil Global Projects President’s Safety, Security, Health and Environmental (SSHE) Award, which recognizes projects and individuals that have demonstrated exemplary commitment to and achievements in SSHE Leadership. 
    • Construction Users Roundtable award for outstanding achievements in construction industry safety excellence.
    • Associated Builders and Contractors Award for Excellence in Construction
    • The BLADE project was honored with the Jovix “Project of the Year” award 

Read more about our expansion project safety’s performance in an August 2021 article in the Beaumont Business Journal.