Fire hits Mexico’s Minatitlan refinery

Petroleos Mexicanos’ (Pemex) 185,000-b/d Lazaro Cardenas refinery near Minatitlan, Veracruz state, continues to maintain normal operations following a fire that broke out during planned maintenance of the main fractionator of Catalytic Plant II, the company said.

While the small Dec. 10 fire was promptly extinguished, four workers were sent to hospital with burn injuries as a result of the incident.

The fire was sparked by friction created during the performance of a flange seal fitting at the unit, the company said.

Other units at the refinery continue to operate normally, Pemex said.

Details regarding the degree of damage to Catalytic Plant II or the preliminary timeframe for the unit’s repair were not disclosed.

Earlier in the year, Pemex said it was proceeding as planned and without delay on the first phase of an ultralow-sulfur fuels project at the Minatitlan refinery, which was scheduled to begin producing 24,000 b/d of ultralow-sulfur gasoline (30 ppm) in April following construction and installation of a catalytic hydrodesulfurization (HDS) plant (OGJ Online, Mar. 10, 2015).

At the time, Pemex said it also was proceeding with a second phase of Minatitlan’s fuel-quality improvement program, which involves construction of a 30,000-b/d diesel HDS plant for the production of diesel with a sulfur content of 10 ppm, as well as the revamp of an existing 25,000-b/d HDS unit to expand its ultralow-sulfur diesel production to 50,000 b/d (OGJ Online, Sept. 15, 2014).

Pemex previously advised investors that it would complete the diesel phase of the project at Minatitlan—which began late in 2014—by yearend 2017.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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