Valero refinery fire forces second shutdown in weeks

(FinancialPress) — Fire forced a shutdown of Valero Energy’s (NYSE:VLO) refinery in Port Arthur, Texas yesterday. The incident marked the second shutdown in the last three weeks, after severe damage along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Harvey recently caused a two-week shutdown.

The fire at the 335,000 barrel-per-day refinery began around midday. It’s not immediately clear whether the blaze was related to the restart process or effects caused weeks prior by the storm.

Company officials assert that its emergency response team is on the scene, and that there’s been cooperation with local authorities and relevant agencies. The Port Arthur Fire Department is assisting with fighting the fire at the Valero plant, according to municipal updates.

All employees have been accounted for, and there have been no injuries report. However, local residents have been advised to stay indoors as a precautionary measure.

“Our primary concern is for safety of workers and community,” stated Lillian Riojas, Valero’s Director of Media Relations and Communications.

Video of the fires emerged, and were shared by the local newspaper The Beaumont Enterprise, showing a thick black plume of smoke that arose from behind a tank.

The refinery’s shutdown marks a turbulent recovery from the recent beatings the entire Port Arthur region endured from Hurricane Harvey’s tropical wrath.

The Valero facility was among other shutdowns in the Port Arthur/Beaumont region, with a peer group included Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Total SA (NYSE:TOT) and Saudi-owned Motiva Enterprises all of which had to shutdown their massive oil refineries due to the storms.

Harvey’s destruction also recently forced the shutdown of Valero’s refineries in Corpus Christi and Three Rivers when the storm first made its landfall. Each refinery requires a days-long process to reopen.

It’s been a rough year for Valero’s refineries in general, with the forced shutdowns due to natural disasters, fire, and in the case of the company’s Aruba refinery, declining margins.


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