Blast prompts Iraq refinery closure

At least one employee dead after attack sets alight facility that produces 11 million litres of petroleum a day.

    An oil refinery in the Iraqi town of Baiji has been shut down following a fire started by a bomb attack, according to the governor of Salahuddin province.

    One person was reportedly killed in the attack, which occurred at around 4:30am local time (01:30GMT) on Saturday.

    Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, quoted Abdul Qader al-Saab, deputy director of the state-owned North Oil Company, as saying that unknown gunmen equipped with silencers infiltrated the biggest refinery in the Baiji refining complex, laid IEDs [Improvised explosive devices] in several operational units and fled before detonating them.

    "[Saab] also said that the entire refinery has now closed and that a chemical engineer died from smoke inhalation and several others were injured," she said.

    The Baiji refinery was controlled for a long time by al-Qaeda fighters, who used it to finance attacks.It is located about 180km north of Baghdad.

    Iraq currently has three major refineries - Baiji in the north, Basra in the south, and Dora in south Baghdad.

    They have a combined capacity to handle 550,000 barrels per day of crude, producing refined products including 12 million litres of petrol, 15 million litres of diesel, nine million litres of heating oil and large volumes of fuel oil for power stations.

    Baiji on its own has overall capacity of 290,000 barrels but was operating at 70 per cent capacity before the attack.

    Overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the peak of sectarian conflict in 2006-07, but attacks still occur on a
    daily basis.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.