By ALISTAIR MACDONALD and JERRY DICOLO
An explosion at an Irving Oil refinery in New Brunswick injured one person on Wednesday and sent gasoline futures higher on fears that the blast threatens already-stretched fuel supplies.
Privately-held Irving Oil said that production was resumed soon after the incident, which will have no impact on the 300,000 bpd refinery, one of the largest in North America.
The accident happened just before midday Atlantic Daylight Time when a tank undergoing maintenance became overpressurized, Irving Oil said in a statement.
An employee suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution, the company said.
The fire service was called but soon downgraded its presence to one fire crew to act in a monitoring role, a spokesman for the service said.
Gasoline futures rose 3.7% to a high of $3.0874/gal on the New York Mercantile Exchange midday Wednesday on reports of the blast. In more recent trading, futures were still up 2.8% at $3.0508.
The accident comes as fuel stockpiles in the Northeast US are at the lowest level since November 1990. The East Coast imports roughly 10,000 bpd from Canada, according to the latest Energy Department figures.
Irving Oil is a regional energy processing, transporting and retail company that sells its fuel in stations throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and New England.
The company is owned by the New Brunswick-based Irving family, whose large business interests in that province stretch from timber to local newspapers and oil.
An explosion at an Irving Oil Saint John refinery killed one person in 1998, according to media reports at the time.
Dow Jones Newswires
Ben Lefebvre contributed to this article.