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Major fires hit Houston area refinery, tank farm; petrochemical production impact unclear

Houston — Major fires hit the ExxonMobil Baytown, Texas, refining and petrochemical facility and Intercontinental Terminals Company's tank farm in nearby Deer Park over the weekend, but the impact on petrochemical production has yet to be disclosed.

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On Saturday, a fire at the ExxonMobil Baytown facility could be seen across much of the greater Houston area.

The Baytown facility has a refinery with a capacity of 584,000 b/d and an olefins plant, which includes an ethane cracker with a capacity of 1.5 million mt/year, according to the ExxonMobil website.

In a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, ExxonMobil said a furnace fire resulted in emissions to the atmosphere.

It added that operational adjustments made temporarily reduced flare gas recovery capacity, resulting in safe utilization of the flare system.

ExxonMobil also said that the furnace was isolated and the unit was shutdown.

Available information indicated no adverse impact to the site or surrounding community. Operational adjustments were made to other refinery units to minimize emissions.

ExxonMobil, however, has not commented on whether production of petrochemicals is affected.

On Sunday morning at 10:22 am Houston time, a tank fire caused Intercontinental Terminals Company's facility in Deer Park, Texas, to shutdown, the company said. That fire could also been seen across much of the greater Houston area.

The ITC Deer Park terminal has 13.1 million barrels of capacity across 242 tanks, according to its website. It stores all kinds of petrochemical liquids and gases, as well as fuel oil, bunker oil and distillates. The terminal has five ship docks and 10 barge docks, rail and truck access, as well as multiple pipeline connections.

Residents in Deer Park were instructed to shelter in place because of the ITC fire. The company said Sunday afternoon that the chemical that was burning at the facility was naphtha and the cause of the fire was under investigation.

By Sunday evening, ITC confirmed that the fire spread to another tank containing xylene and that it was continuing its efforts to put out the fire.

--Brian Balboa,

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy,