| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Four injured in fire at Exxon’s Baytown, Texas oil refinery

A fire broke out on Thursday at an Exxon Mobil Corp compound in Baytown, Texas, one of the country’s largest refining and petrochemical complexes, injuring four employees.

There were no fatalities, and those who were hurt were in good condition and getting medical attention. Exxon stated that all other staff had been located.

The fire was extinguished about 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), many hours after it began.

The incident, according to an Exxon official, was caused by a machine that generates gasoline.

People familiar with plant operations told Reuters that the fire occurred in a hydrotreater unit at the refinery that had been shut on Wednesday due to a bypass line leak. Hydrotreaters remove sulfur and other contaminants in producing diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

Exxon is adjusting production rates at other Baytown processing units to focus on stabilizing the affected units, spokeswoman Julie King said.

The Baytown plant houses a chemical plant, an olefins plant and the country’s fourth-biggest oil refinery, with capacity to process 560,500 barrels per day of crude. It is unclear whether any units will be shut for an extended length of time.

The injured were contractors who had been repairing the leak. Three of the injured were flown to hospital by Lifeflight rescue helicopter and a fourth person was taken by ambulance, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter.

Gonzalez said initial reports had indicated that there had been some type of explosion at the plant. Social media users said on Twitter that a blast shook buildings in the area.

The facility spans about 3,400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel, about 25 miles (40 km) east of Houston, and employs about 7,000 people.

  • Reuters