Fire quickly put out at Chevron’s Pascagoula refinery

Published 4:53 pm Friday, January 4, 2008

There was a small fire at Chevron’s largest U.S. refinery in Pascagoula on Thursday, but damage was not expected to disrupt production at the facility still recovering from a blaze in August, officials said.

“We had a small, localized fire. It was weather related. Emergency crews responded and had it out in fairly short order,” said Chevron spokesman Steve Renfroe in Pascagoula. “There were no injuries. Everyone is accounted for.”

The fire was reported at 8:30 a.m. Chevron officials did not immediately say where the fire started. Renfroe said more details would be released when available.

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Renfroe blamed the fire at the Mississippi Gulf Coast facility on freezing temperatures that dipped into the low 20s overnight, but said he couldn’t explain how cold weather would spark a blaze.

“There was some freezing issues in the plant with the weather,” he said.

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Robbie Wilbur said the agency is monitoring the situation.

“The fire is contained and under control,” Wilbur said. “From what we can tell there was no affect on the environment.”

The fire is not expected to disrupt production at the facility, which is one of the top 10 petroleum refineries in the United States, Renfroe said. However, production is already down from a larger fire in August.

Under normal conditions, the facility processes about 330,000 barrels of oil a day, producing about 5.5 million gallons of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

Chevron officials have declined to say exactly how much production has been down since the August fire damaged the refinery’s No. 2 crude unit.

A statement posted on Chevron’s Web site said repairs from the August fire should “be completed during the first quarter of 2008.”

“Plans and preparations for the repair work are under way and progressing,” the statement said. “The company has covered its supply requirements and fully anticipates continuing to meet all of its customer product commitments.”

The Pascagoula plant employs 1,350 people and has been in operation since 1963.

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