Shell reports incident at Ontario refinery

Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:28pm EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that it was still meeting customer obligations at its 72,000 barrel per day refinery at Sarnia, Ontario, after one of the units spewed deadly hydrogen sulfide gas.

Kristina Zimmer, a spokeswoman for Shell, said an unspecified unit at the facility has been shutdown since Friday after malfunctioning.

"We had an upset in one of our units," she said. "We had a higher-than-normal flare and there was also a release of hydrogen and sulfur compounds...We were able to bring that situation under control fairly quickly."

Zimmer said air monitoring in a nearby community showed there was no health threat from the gas release. The gas, noted for its rotten-egg odor, is deadly in high concentrations.

Zimmer declined to say if production of gasoline and other refined products was curtailed by the incident. Shell is inspecting the affected unit on Monday and the firm will then begin any necessary repairs.

"We are meeting all of our customer obligations," she said. "It's just our policy that we don't provide details on operational status of the individual units."

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Peter Galloway)