TEHRAN Three separate explosions were reported on Iranian oil and gas infrastructure on Friday, with an oil field blast killing one person.
There was no apparent connection between the three incidents but they are likely to raise concerns about safety in Iran's vital energy sector, which has been deprived of foreign investments due to sanctions.
The fatal incident at the oil field at Bibi Hakimeh near the Gulf occurred during drilling, when workers unexpectedly encountered an "enormous volume of unknown accumulated gas" in the layers of a reservoir, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Three people were injured.
Mehr also reported a separate blast at the Shazand oil refinery in central Iran, but the plant's managing director later told state radio the incident had been exaggerated.
"Nothing special has happened there. There was no fire at all," Majid Rajabi said. "The refinery is functioning normally."
The third blast happened on a 26-inch pipeline carrying gas to an oilfield in Gachsaran in south-western Iran later on Friday, according to the official IRNA news agency.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad witnessed first hand a lethal explosion at a refinery when a blast happened in May at the major Abadan complex as he was opening a new plant.
Iran is pushing for a massive increase in gasoline output to counter international sanctions on imports. In the Abadan case, several politicians said the work had been rushed and safety standards were not observed, something officials denied.
Last year a scheme to develop the Shazand refinery was launched, with an investment of $3.3 billion to boost its initial refining capacity from 170,000 barrels per day to 250,000 bpd and increase Iran's gasoline production by 2 million liters per day.
(Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi and Hossein Jaseb; Editing by Jane Baird and Anthony Barker)