Blast, fire damage Petro-Canada Alberta refinery

Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:58am EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - An explosion and fire damaged Petro-Canada's Edmonton, Alberta, refinery late on Tuesday, but the company said no injuries were reported and the plant was still producing some fuels after the blaze was extinguished.

The blast ripped through one processing unit at the 135,000 barrel a day plant in the early evening, and crews were able to put out the fire about 1-1/2 hours later, Petro-Canada spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said.

The company had yet to determine the cause of the explosion or the extent of the damage.

The Edmonton Journal newspaper quoted Strathcona County fire chief Ken Jones as saying the blast happened in one of the site's naphtha gas processing buildings, but Seetal said she could not confirm that.

She declined to specify how much product the refinery was producing following the blast.

The plant has been running at various rates since last autumn, when it started up new equipment following a C$2.7 billion ($2.2 billion) project to retool it to run oil sands-derived crude exclusively.

It was expected to pump more consistently at capacity rates as the first quarter progresses.

Local authorities, including Alberta Environment, the county's emergency services and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called to the scene after the blast.

"We do not believe there are any hazardous effects to either the responders or the public at this time," Jones said.

($1=$1.23 Canadian)

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones and Jonathan Leff; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)