Irving Oil says major incident occurred at Saint John, Canada refinery

(Reuters) - A major incident occurred at Irving Oil’s Saint John refinery in New Brunswick, the company said on Twitter.

Residents in the area reported an explosion and fire at the refinery, local media reported.

"We can confirm that a major incident has occurred at our Saint John refinery this morning. We are actively assessing the situation at this time and will share more information when available," The company shared on Twitter. 

Photos of the refinery posted to social media showed fire and black clouds billowing into the sky. Residents reported that a blast shook homes.

Saint John Regional Hospital treated two people with minor injuries as a result of the explosion, according to Horizon Health, which operates the hospital. A spokesperson there declined to comment further.

According to CNBC, the plant has the capacity to refine 320,000 barrels per day of gasoline, diesel heating oil, jet fuel and other petroleum products. Irving Oil exports more than half of that supply to the United States.

Energy intelligence service Genscape reported the plant was being shut due to a fire, saying it appeared to have occurred near the catalytic reformer.

The crude section, catalytic reformer and a cogeneration unit were shut following the incident, Genscape reported, adding that multiple units were already offline for maintenance.

The company shut most of the plant for planned maintenance in late September, but the smaller, 25,000 bpd gasoline-making units and the 125,000 bpd crude unit were still running, a source familiar with the plant’s operations said.

The source said he believed the explosion was within the section of the plant that houses the hydrogen unit. Over one-half of the finished products from the refinery are exported to the U.S. Northeast, according to Irving’s website.

Reports of the fire sparked a rally in futures in refined products; gasoline was up about 2 percent following the reports.

The company was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama. Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly in New York Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and David Gregorio

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