Citgo Corpus refinery alky unit shut after fire

HOUSTON Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:16pm EDT

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Citgo Petroleum Corp said only an alkylation unit, which makes high-octane gasoline blending components, was shut on Sunday following a morning fire at its 163,000 barrel per day (bpd) Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery.

All other units at the refinery continue to operate as a small fire at the alkylation unit burned down, a Citgo spokesman said.

Two workers were injured in the blaze, according to sources familiar with refinery operations. Citgo spokesman Larry Elizondo disputed that figure saying he only knew of one man who was flown to a specialized burn unit at a San Antonio hospital.

The sources said a second man was taken to Corpus Christi hospital for treatment of inhalation of fumes.

Work was being done to repair a valve on the unit when the fire broke out at about 8:30 a.m. CDT (9:30 a.m. EST) Sunday, the sources said. It was unclear what caused the leak of fumes, which appeared to be ignited by a heater on a nearby unit.

The fire was contained by water spray from fire cannons that surround the alky unit, Elizondo said.

"Our immediate concerns are the safety and well being of our employees and our community," the company said in a statement.

Citgo is the U.S. refining and marketing subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Diane Craft)