Fires Disrupt Chevron, JX Nippon Refineries


Fires at Chevrons Richmond, Calif., refinery and a refinery in Mizushima, Japan, caused disruptions at both plants, although the long-term impact at each remains to be determined.

A massive fire broke out Aug. 6 at the Chevron Richmond Refinery. Officials are still working to determine the cause of the fire, but said the blaze was in their No. 4 Crude Unit, which processes diesel oil. Sources have not determined or confirmed whether this incident will or will not impact production of base oils.

Safety officials are allowing a small controlled burn at the plant to reduce pressure, which ensures additional hydrocarbons dont escape, according to an Aug. 7 statement by Chevron.

All employees and contractors are safely accounted for. Three employees sustained minor injuries and were treated on site. The plant employs 2,700 people and 850 contract workers.

The Richmond refinery, built in 1902, is Chevrons third largest in the United States, with crude distillation capacity of 245,300 barrels per day, which accounts for one-eighth of California’s refining capacity.

In Mizushima, Japan, a vacuum distillation unit used in the production of lubricating oil at a JX Nippon Oil refinery caught fire on Aug. 5. According to a Japanese-language statement issued Aug. 5, the fire occurred at 11:23 a.m. in the second vacuum distillation unit. Firefighters extinguished the fire by 6:57 p.m., the company said.

No workers were injured. The cause of the fire is under investigation, the company stated.

According to an Aug. 6 Reuters report, a company official said JX Nippon Oil had shut down units related to lubricant oil production after the fire.

JX Nippon Oil has two refineries in Mizushima, with a base oil plant at each site. The fire occurred at the refinery that has a base oil plant with a capacity of 3,500 barrels per day of API Group I. The companys other refinery in Mizushima has a base oil plant with 4,000 b/d of Group I and 400 b/d of Group III capacity.

Meanwhile, the HollyFrontier Refinery in Tulsa, Okla., experienced a minor explosion and subsequent fire on Aug. 2. Sources said that the explosion was in a diesel hydrotreater, which is used for removing sulfur from the fuel oil. A company spokesperson said the incident would not affect its base oil operations.

The company said there were no reported deaths or major injuries sustained.

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