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Lemont refinery crude unit fix may take six months: sources

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The fire-damaged crude distillation unit at Citgo Petroleum Corp's 174,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Lemont, Illinois, refinery is expected to be shut five to six months for repairs, sources familiar with operations at the refinery said on Friday afternoon.

The CDU was heavily damaged by a fire that broke out on Wednesday night and burned for hours, but caused no injuries.

A company spokesman said Citgo might issue an update later on Friday about the status of the sole CDU at the refinery.

Piping on the CDU, which does the initial refining of crude oil coming into the refinery and supplies feed to all other units, appeared to be heavily damaged, the sources said.

Access to the CDU was blocked by the damaged piping and scaffolds that have been in place around the unit for repairs following a small fire in the unit's insulation in August, the sources said.

Whatever repairs are needed could be lengthy, they added.

"It's going to be a while before it restarts - five to six months," one of the sources said.

Some units downstream from the CDU continue to produce using on-hand feedstocks. No decision has been made about continuing to operate the units while repairs are made to the CDU, the sources said. The other units could remain in production using feed purchased from other refiners.

Citgo is the U.S. refining arm of Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andre Grenon)

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