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Ohio refinery badly damaged after explosion and fire

12 January 2015

A fire started by an explosion at the Husky Energy refinery in Lima, Ohio, on January 10 was extinguished the following day after causing serious damage to a section of the plant. No injuries were reported in the blast, which was heard across the city and shattered nearby windows, according to local media reports.

Stock image
Stock image

The blast involved the 26,000-barrel-per-day isocracker unit, which was being restarted after maintenance. There was extensive damage to the unit and the nearby ultraformer, which boosts the octane in gasoline.

An isocracker is a type of hydrocracking unit which uses hydrogen under high heat and pressure to increase the amount of motor fuels made from crude oil. It was previously damaged in a 2009 fire.

Output has been halted but the 155,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery has good stockpiles of diesel and jet fuel so supply contracts are continuing to be met. Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said it was too early to assess the impact on production.

The isocracker is situated in a section of the refinery called the Lima Integration Unit, built around 1970. The section includes the crude unit, hydrocracker, naphtha hydrotreater, and reformer, which are the most modern part of the plant, according to documents filed with the US.

The refinery gets about 65,000 bpd of crude imported from Canada, a mix of light and medium grades, according to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration. In addition, it runs domestically produced crude oil.

A second incident at the largest refinery on the US East Coast in Philadelphia was also reported on December 10. Production was reduced to less than half its capacity because of a fire, which shut the the 200,000-bpd crude distillation unit in the Girard Point section of the plant.

The fire reportedly started when a valve blew out on the unit. No casualties were reported.

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