Deadly blast at Mexico oil refinery

Explosion kills one worker and badly burns others at state run complex providing gasoline to northern Mexico.

    The deadly explosion could hurt Mexico's oil dependent government 

    An explosion has killed one worker and badly burned others at a major oil refinery in northern Mexico, Pemex, the state run oil company, has said.  

    Juan Sanchez Paz, 32, an operations engineer was killed, two other employees suffered serious burns and were hospitalised, while eight other workers had slight injuries, Pemex said on Tuesday.

    Francisco Montano, a Pemex spokesman in Mexico City, the capital, said the blast took place in one of the refinery's hydrotreating units, which remove sulfur from fuels under high pressure in the presence of explosive hydrogen gas.

    Jose Luis Garsa, a government employee in Juarez, a city about 20 minutes way from the refinery, said: "We felt the windows shake. It was only a few seconds, but the whole building shook".

    The Cadeyreta complex, with a capacity of 275,000 barrels per day, is considered Mexico's most sophisticated refinery.

    Economic fallout

    "Pemex is a very important engine for the national economy," Al Jazeera's Franc Contreras said, reporting from Mexico City.

    The company accounts for nearly one third of Mexico's government revenue, so the economic impact from the blast could be significant.

    The blast could force Mexico, which already relies on imports for more than 40 percent of domestic gasoline demand, to significantly boost fuel imports.

    "This could send Pemex into the market to buy products, depending on how much supply they already have on hand, what the damage is and how long the refinery is down," one energy trader in New York told Reuters.

    Pemex, struggling under a mountain of debt and rapidly aging oil fields, is studying a plan to import crude oil for the first time in over three decades to improve the profitability of its refineries.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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