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No injuries in large fire at BP's Texas City refinery

02 November 2012

BP said a fire that broke out on October 30 in a residual hydrotreater at the company's 400,780 barrel-per-day Texas City refinery was extinguished within hours and resulted in no injuries. A part of the refinery was evacuated in the incident, a company spokesman said.

The fire was centred on the refinery's residual hydrotreater unit
The fire was centred on the refinery's residual hydrotreater unit

The residual hydrotreater remained shut following the fire, but the rest of the refinery's units, including crude distillation and gasoline plants, were operating. The blaze was fought by the refinery's fire department.

A residual hydrotreater uses hydrogen to remove sulphur from crude oil residuals, tar-like residues from crude oil, before they are processed in refining units.

The Texas City Emergency Management office said heavy oil burned in the blaze, creating a smoke plume that could be seen up to five miles away. Nearby residents were not told to take special precautions to prevent exposure to the smoke, according to the Emergency Management Office.

BP announced on October 8 that it would sell the BP refinery, the nation's sixth largest, in a $2.5-billion deal to Marathon Petroleum Corp.

In the sale to Marathon, the refinery has a base price of $598 million and Marathon will pay up to an additional $700 million over six years depending on the plant's profitability. The company also agreed to pay BP an estimated $1.2 billion for crude and product inventories.

The Texas City refinery was the site of one of the worst US refinery accidents in recent years when a March 2005 explosion killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.

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