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Fire Crew Mobilize to Battle  Massive Petrochem Blaze
Energy

Fire Crew Mobilize to Battle Massive Petrochem Blaze

Firefighters were racing against time on Friday to stop a fire that broke at a major Iranian petrochemical complex on Wednesday.
"The blaze at Bouali Sina Petrochemical Complex in the southwestern city of Bandar Mahshahr was expected to continue burning through Saturday," Adel Salimnejad, chief executive of Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co., told the Oil Ministry's official news agency Shana.
Bouali Sina Petrochemical Company is one of the subsidiaries of PGPIC holding.
One official said the fire was "almost completely knocked down" on Thursday, but a second fire erupted, prompting the crews on a renewed battle against the biggest conflagration in Iran's petrochemical industry in recent memory.
The fire caused no fatalities, but nine were reportedly injured.
Firefighting helicopters were called into action and measures were taken to offload 20,000 tons of fuel at stake in the complex.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Marzieh Shahdaei, managing director of state-owned National Petrochemical Company, flew to Bandar Mahshahr on Friday to join an emergency meeting over the incident, Shana reported.
Zanganeh said he would remain in Bandar Mahshahr until the fire is fully extinguished.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it was likely caused by the leakage of paraxylene, a highly flammable hydrocarbon.
Zanganeh said a technical problem likely led to the incident.
Officials also ruled out speculations that residents in nearby areas should be evacuated after smoke and flames clouded over the complex zone.
"The fire was prevented from spreading to other units of the plant ... It has been contained," a local official from Khuzestan Province told Shana on Thursday.
Some early estimates suggest the total damage has already topped $200 million, as the complex's largest processing unit as well as some of its naphtha storage units and pipelines have burned.
"If this fire is not extinguished, it might also be spread to other areas," Mahshahr Governor Mansour Qamar was quoted as saying by IRNA.
There have been similar incidents in the past, but the fire at Bouali Sina complex is the biggest in Iran's oil and gas sector.
In 2013, a fire spread at a warehouse of Abadan Oil Refinery. Also in February, fire on a smaller scale broke out at a processing unit of Lavan Oil Refinery in Hormozgan Province, but no casualties were reported in either incident.
Studies suggest that most fires in refineries and petrochemical complexes break out due to leaks.
In one of the world's worst refinery disasters in decades, an explosion killed 47 people at the Amuay Refinery of Venezuela's state-run oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela in 2012.
A technical report concluded that a massive leak of propane that lasted almost 70 minutes caused the accident, blaming poor maintenance for the leak.
In another deadly incident, 12 people died and six were critically injured in a fire at United Petrochemical Company's plant in Saudi Arabia in April that was caused by operator error during routine maintenance.

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