Photographer: SUSANA GONZALEZ/Bloomberg

Pemex Salina Cruz Refinery Operating Despite Fire, Flooding

  • Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Calvin caused overflow of oil
  • Second major incident affecting a Pemex refinery in 2017

A fire broke out Wednesday at the Petroleos Mexicanos Salina Cruz refinery after a night of torrential rains from Tropical Storm Calvin. It was the second major accident at a Petroleos Mexicanos refinery this year.

Salina Cruz, the largest of six refineries operated by state-owned Pemex with a capacity of 330,000 barrels of crude a day, is operating normally even as the fire burns, the company said. In an emailed statement, Pemex said waste dams at the plant overflowed because of the rain and that some of the oil reached an ignition point.

A sign reads "Welcome to this clean and safe refinery" in front of the Pemex Salina Cruz refinery on June 14.

Photographer: Amy Stillman/Bloomberg

The fire, which sent up plumes of black smoke along the country’s southern Pacific shoreline, originated in the pump house. At least nine people were injured, Pemex said.

In March, a blast at the company’s Salamanca refinery killed at least eight people.

The accidents come as Pemex is seeking joint venture partners to improve operations at the Salina Cruz, Salamanca and Tula refineries. The company hired Bank of America last year to assist with the search. Carlos Murrieta, director of Pemex Industrial Transformation, said last month that the company expects to have a partner “toward the end of the year, hopefully in the next three to four months.”

Pemex processed 948,000 barrels a day of crude in the first quarter this year, up 21 percent from a year earlier and below the capacity of 1.64 million.

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