Chevron refinery operational after blast

Despite explosion and four deaths, Chevron plant fully operational

07/11/2011


After suffering an explosion that left four dead, the U.K.’s fifth largest refinery, Chevron Corp.’s Pembroke plant in Wales, is fully operational.

“There are no implications to supply of finished products,” said Isabelle Guerin, a Chevron spokeswoman based in London.

The Pembroke refinery has a processing capacity of 210,000 barrels a day. It processes crude mainly from the North Sea into fuels including diesel, gasoline and jet fuel. There will be no changes to worker shifts, said Paul Bray, another Chevron spokesman.

“Staff will be there today on the shift patterns you’d expect,” said Bray. “A small number of non-essential staff aren’t coming in.” The storage tank that exploded had no crude in it, he said.

Another worker remained hospitalized for serious injuries after the explosion in storage tank undergoing maintenance led to a fire, San Ramon, CA-based Chevron. An adjacent storage tank also suffered damaged, officials said. An investigation into the cause is under way.

Even after they put out the fire, the refinery continued to operate, Guerin said. The workers were contractors, the company said.

Material released into the atmosphere as a result of the explosion and fire blew offshore, representing no risk to the neighboring community, police said. The Welsh environment agency will carry out an investigation into the incident with the U.K.’s health and safety executive, police said.

 

“This news is utterly devastating,” Greg Hanggi, the refinery’s general manager, said in a statement. “We will ensure that all employees and contractors are fully supported through this difficult time.”

Valero Energy Corp. agreed in March to buy the Pembroke refinery and 1,000 retail outlets from Chevron for $1.73 billion in cash, to gain its first European plant.

Chevron had been seeking a buyer for its only European refinery for almost a year.

Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero, said he couldn’t comment on operations at Pembroke because the company’s purchase of the plant has not yet closed. The deal should close Sept. 30.