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Explosion and fire rock Irving oil refinery

Don Horne   


Irving Oil Corp shut its Saint John refinery in the Canadian province of New Brunswick on Monday morning after an explosion and a major fire that followed, with photos showing flames and smoke billowing from the complex.

The company said on Twitter it was dealing with a “major incident” at the 320,000 barrel-per-day refinery, but that all of its employees and contractors have been accounted for, none of them seriously injured.

Saint John Regional Hospital treated and released five people with minor injuries as a result of the explosion, according to Horizon Health, operator of the hospital.

“I heard a loud bang that shook our house and rattled the windows,” Gordon Dalzell, who lives in Saint John near the refinery, told Reuters. He said he and others saw a “very large black sooty plume of smoke” from their street.


Energy intelligence service Genscape reported the fire appeared to have occurred near the catalytic reformer.

The crude section, catalytic reformer and a cogeneration unit were shut following the incident, Genscape reported, adding that multiple units were already offline for maintenance.

The company shut most of the plant for planned maintenance in late September, but the smaller, 25,000 bpd gasoline-making units and the 125,000 bpd crude unit were still running, a source familiar with the plant’s operations told Reuters.

The source said he believed the explosion was within the section of the plant that houses the hydrogen unit.

More than one-half of the finished products from the refinery are exported to the U.S. Northeast, according to Irving’s website.



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