The fire-damaged crude distillation unit (CDU) at Citgo Petroleum Corp.’s 174,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Lemont, IL, refinery should be shut down five to six months for repairs, said sources familiar with operations at the refinery Friday afternoon.
The unit suffered heavy damage after a fire broke out Wednesday night at 7:40 p.m. and burned for hours, but caused no injuries.
Some units downstream from the CDU continue to produce using on-hand feedstocks. Officials have not yet made a decision about continuing to operate the units while the company makes repairs to the CDU. The other units could remain in production using feed purchased from other refiners.
Regarding the fire, “I know there was a lot of work being done at the refinery, something sparked, which caused the fire,” Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves said.
Employees at the refinery said they heard a hissing sound and a loud explosion, which they believe came from an oil leak.
All of the refinery’s employees ended up accounted for, said Reaves.
Officials immediately shut down the crude oil unit, and firefighters from Lemont and surrounding suburban departments helped bring the fire under control by 10 p.m.
“The refinery is conducting air monitoring and is working closely with Will County Emergency Management and local fire departments,” the company said in a statement.
The vast refinery, at 135th Street and New Avenue, covers land in Lemont, unincorporated areas nearby and parts of Romeoville. The area around the refinery is not heavily populated, Reaves said.
When asked if the refinery has been a good neighbor to the citizens of Lemont, Reaves said, “Absolutely.”