Engineering News

Fire Nearly Halts Ops at Houston Refinery
May 18, 2010

A fire at LyondellBasell's oil refinery in the Houston Ship Channel Monday afternoon sent huge clouds of black smoke into the sky and all but halted fuel production at the sprawling facility.

The fire started at about 2:30 p.m. at one of two crude distillation units at the plant and raged for an hour before company firefighters put it out, according to LyondellBasell spokesman David Harpole.

Neither the cause of the blaze nor the damage to the unit was immediately known.

No workers were reported injured in the fire, however, two firefighters were being treated for heat exhaustion after battling the blaze, Harpole said.

The 268,000 barrel per day Houston plant is the nation's 16th largest oil refinery, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In July 2008, a toppled crane at the plant killed four contract workers.

Following the fire Monday, the plant was running at "minimal rates" while the burnt crude unit remained offline and the other crude unit was down for unscheduled maintenance, Harpole said. The latter unit is expected to return to production this week, he said.

LyondellBasell Industries, based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is one of the world's largest chemical and fuel makers.

It emerged from bankruptcy prctection last month after placing its U.S. operations in Chapter 11 in January 2009.

Source: Houston Chronicle

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