Pemex Cadereyta Refinery Is Rocked by Explosion; One Person Dead

Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, said its 235,000 barrel-a-day Cadereyta refinery outside the city of Monterrey was hit by an explosion, the second such incident at the company in the past six weeks.

One person died and 10 were injured, two seriously, after a compressor exploded today in a desulfurization unit at the plant, the company said in a statement. The refinery is still operating, said an official who declined to be identified, citing Pemex policy, without giving more information.

Mexico imported 432,000 barrels a day of petroleum products from the U.S. in June, according to the U.S. Energy Department and is the second-largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Cadereyta processed 104,063 barrels a day in July, a 56 percent drop from December 2006 when the facility peaked at 239,388 barrels daily, according to the website of Mexico’s Energy Ministry.

The person who died and seven of the injured workers are Pemex employees, the company said. The other three people hurt were contractors from Carso Infraestructura y Construccion SA, the oil services company owned by billionaire Carlos Slim.

“There are numerous injured and maybe some dead, but we have not been told how many,” Erika Garza, a spokeswoman with emergency response company Cruz Verde, said today in a telephone interview. “Everything started at 9:30 a.m. and now the ambulances are at the scene.”

Analyzing Effects

Pemex officials are analyzing the effects of the accident at the site, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Monterrey, according to the Pemex spokesman. The situation is under control, said a company official for the region of Monterrey, who also declined to be identified.

The company shut its coker after the explosion, Pemex said in a separate statement. The explosion didn’t damage the refinery’s processing plants, the company said.

Today’s accident follows an explosion at a coking unit gasoline storage tank at the company’s Francisco I Madero refinery on the Gulf of Mexico on July 29.

Gasoline rose as traders speculated that the explosion could increase demand for fuel exports from the U.S. Gulf Coast. Gasoline for October delivery rose 1.34 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $1.9329 a gallon today on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Crude for October delivery fell 51 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $74.09 a barrel on Nymex.

Mexico is a net importer of refined petroleum products. In 2009, Mexico imported 519,000 barrels a day of refined petroleum products, while exporting 244,000 barrels daily. Gasoline represented about 60 percent of its product imports.

New Refinery

Pemex is building its first refinery in three decades in the state of Hidalgo to keep up with rising gasoline demand as more Mexicans buy cars.

Demand for the fuel in Mexico, which imports about 40 percent of domestic consumption, may gain 5 percent a year through 2012, according to the Energy Ministry.

Mexico’s six refineries were able to process 1.35 million barrels a day in 2009, according to Energy Ministry figures. The plants ran at about 70 percent capacity last year.

Pemex may import about 3 percent of its refining capacity Chief Executive Officer Juan Jose Suarez Coppel said in a radio interview last month.