(Recasts lead, adds details on isomerization unit)
By Koustav Samanta and Robert Gibbons
July 29 (Reuters) - CVR Refining’s 115,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Coffeyville, Kansas, was shut on Tuesday after a fire broke out at a unit that upgrades gasoline, injuring four employees.
The fire in the isomerization unit began just after midnight and was extinguished just over an hour later, but news of the closure fuelled a $1 drop in U.S. crude oil prices because the refinery is a large consumer of benchmark West Texas Intermediate and is located near the Cushing storage hub.
CVR said the injured employees were taken to the hospital and that company officials were assessing the situation. Its statement did not specify a cause of the fire or say how long the refinery’s production would be affected.
“Reports indicate CVR employees were working on a pump when it caught fire with flames engulfing the area,” said a statement prepared by the Coffeyville Fire Department and placed on the city’s Facebook page.
The city said there was no explosion reported and that all of the employees’ injuries were burn-related. The fire department responded to assist with the injuries, the city said.
The Kansas refinery produces mainly clean-transportation products such as gasoline, diesel fuels and propane. An isomerization unit helps produce isobutane and higher-octane gasoline. The plant has one such unit with a capacity of 8,500 bpd, according to IIR Energy data available via Eikon.
The refinery is about 100 miles from the large crude oil trading and storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the U.S. light sweet crude contract traded on the NYMEX. Numerous pipelines, including some from the U.S. Gulf Coast and Canada, serve the facility, according to CVR’s website.
Crude oil traders on Tuesday said the Coffeyville refinery runs a lot of Cushing crude. U.S. oil futures slid by more than $1 while Brent dipped just about 30 cents on Tuesday.
At the Group Three trading hub for the region nearest the refinery, gasoline had been about 3 cents stronger at 19.00 cents and then 18.75 cents under the benchmark August RBOB gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to brokers.
“It has since backed off,” said a broker.
The company said initial reports indicated there was no impact to the surrounding community.
The fire began just after midnight and was extinguished at about 1:18 a.m. CDT (0618 GMT), CVR said.
In the city’s statement, Fire Chief James Grimmett said firefighters had remained on the scene until 2:30 a.m. to provide backup for CVR’s emergency response team.
A small fire was reported on a gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit at the Coffeyville refinery on Dec. 28, 2010, forcing the company to reduce crude throughput to just over 50,000 barrels per day.
Shares in CVR Refining LP, headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas, dipped just 0.4 percent. The company is an independent downstream energy limited partnership formed by CVR Energy Inc , whose shares dipped 1.1 percent. (Reporting by Robert Gibbons and Catherine Ngai in New York and by Koustav Samanta and Debasis Mohapatra in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernadette Baum and Andrew Hay)