RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Fire has shut down a Saudi Arabian oil refinery, the state oil company said Monday, the second accident in the country’s energy industry in two weeks.
The Saudi Aramco Lubricating Oil Refining Co., Luberef, disclosed the fire in a statement published in several Saudi newspapers, saying it occurred Saturday at one of its refineries south of Jiddah but was put out shortly thereafter without any casualties. Luberef is a joint venture between Saudi’s state oil company, Aramco, and ExxonMobil.
Luberef’s chief, Omar Bazuhair, said in the statement that the fire would not affect the company’s supplies and the refinery would be reopened “within a short period of time after carrying out some tests on the products.”
Bazuhair said the fire started in a storage tank when a malfunctioning cooling fan ignited a propane leak.
Al-Watan newspaper, which is deemed close to the Saudi government, said the security presence around the site of the accident was very heavy, with police blocking off the area.
Two weeks ago, more than 40 people died in a gas pipeline explosion in Aramco’s Hawiyah gas plant in eastern Saudi Arabia. The accident did not disrupt gas supplies.
Also Monday, Al-Watan quoted Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as saying that “our security apparatus, which is ranked among the best in the world, has thwarted more than 180 terrorist operations now.”
“If only 30 percent of these operations had been successful, God forbid, the country would have been hit by a great catastrophe,” he told reporters Sunday night, according to Al-Watan.
Saudi Arabia said Wednesday that it had arrested 208 suspected al-Qaida-linked terrorists in six cells and thwarted several planned attacks, including one on an oil installation in the eastern part of the country.