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Refinery fire triggers local debate

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A major fire has been extinguished at one of the USA’s largest oil refineries – the Chevron facility in Richmond, California. The fire started at approximately 18.15 local time on Monday 6th August in the refinery’s No 4. Crude Unit, following a vapour leak of hydrocarbons.

The fire at the 242 901 bpd complex, which is the second largest in California, led to hundreds of local residents admitting themselves to hospital complaining of respiratory problems and dizziness. Large plumes of black smoke had spread over the proximate San Francisco Bay area before the blaze was quelled early on Tuesday morning.

The incident has already sparked a debate about the presence of Chevron in the area. Although the complex undoubtedly has a positive economic impact locally, sourcing jobs and contributing taxes, there are concerns about the safety record of the facility, as well as the associated environmental issues.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that if units at the refinery are incapacitated, then the West Coast gasoline market could be vulnerable to a price spike. The refinery contributes approximately 150 000 bpd of gasoline to the local market – a significant amount given how isolated the area is from the vast majority of US refining capacity, located on the Gulf Coast.

Edited from various sources by Joe Hester.

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