(Deletes first bullet point noting earlier media report)
* Plant's safety record no worse than peers-HSE
* Plant due to be sold to Valero Energy
(Adds comment by Chevron spokeswoman)
By Tom Bergin and Adrian Croft
LONDON, June 3 Four people were killed and one
was seriously injured in an explosion at an oil refinery in
southwest Wales, the plant's owner Chevron Corp (CVX.N) said on
The blast occurred at the 220,000 barrel per day Pembroke
refinery on Thursday. A Chevron spokeswoman said the refinery
remained fully operational on Friday.
Police said a fire had broken out after an explosion in a
storage tank during maintenance. An adjacent storage tank was
"I was in the back garden and I just heard a large
explosion, looked around and I could see a fireball rising up
into the sky," local resident Phil Horne told the BBC, adding
that smoke billowed out for between 30 and 45 minutes.
The fire service said it sent 10 emergency vehicles to the
scene and the ambulance service said it responded with three
ambulances and an air ambulance.
"We will take every step possible to determine the series of
events that led to this tragic incident," U.S.-based Chevron
Chevron put the refinery up for sale last year to lower its
exposure to the refining business, echoing similar moves by
rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) and BP Plc (BP.L).
Falling oil demand in Europe has made it the least attractive
location for refinery investment.
U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) agreed in March to
buy the refinery and other assets in a $730 million deal
expected to close in the third quarter.
Valero was not available for comment on whether it would go
ahead with the purchase.
Britain's Health & Safety Executive (HSE) regulator said it
would be on site on Friday to begin an investigation in which
the Environment Agency would also participate.
Concerns over refining safety have reverberated through the
U.S. oil industry since an explosion at a BP refinery in Texas
City in 2005, after which BP said safety shortcomings were
common across the sector.
According to a HSE's enforcement database, the Pembroke
plant had received one enforcement notice in recent years.
This criticised the plant for "failure to demonstrate the
company had identified safety instrumented systems", though the
HSE noted the enforcement notice had been complied with.
By comparison, four enforcement notices were issued to the
Coryton refinery in southeast England, which was owned by BP
before being sold to Swiss-based Petroplus Holdings AG
PPHN.VX, and three notices were given to Exxon Mobil Corp's
(XOM.N) Fawley refinery in southern England.
(Additional reporting by Olesya Dmitracova, Simon Webb and
Karolina Tagaris; Editing by David Holmes, Greg Mahlich)