Oct. 09–Maine energy officials were monitoring events in New Brunswick late Tuesday, a day after an explosion and fire at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.
The Canadian facility is the largest supplier of Maine’s gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil, so officials want to know if the damage will have an impact on supply or price.
Angela Monroe, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, said Tuesday that she was trying to confirm reports about the status of gasoline and heating fuel production in the wake of the accident.
In a statement Tuesday, Irving Oil said the refinery is safe, the specific site is contained, and no air quality problems were occurring in the city.
“We are currently planning to have our turnaround team back on site this evening for the night shift,” the company said. “Our plans for returning to full turnaround mode will be discussed at that time.”
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Irving is still trying to determine the exact cause of the explosion. The company said it likely involved a malfunction in a diesel-treating unit, which removes sulfur.
Irving’s Saint John refinery produces 320,000 barrels a day of gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel, exporting half of it to the Northeast through terminals that include Searsport, Portland and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In Portland Harbor, the company has a major presence at the Citgo/Irving and Buckeye/Irving terminals in South Portland.
Irving doesn’t publicly release shipping information, but has in the past estimated that three out of five vehicles in Boston run on Irving gasoline. Five years ago, the New England Petroleum Council said 70 percent of Maine’s gasoline comes from the Saint John refinery, although it also can receive fuel from refineries in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The Irving refinery was built in 1960. Covering 740 acres, it’s the largest in Canada. The explosion occurred on Canada’sThanksgiving holiday, but nearly 3,000 people were working due to a regularly scheduled maintenance project, according to the CBC.
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