CONVENT — Workers battled a fire Monday afternoon at Motiva Enterprises’ Convent crude oil refinery in St. James Parish for 45 minutes before extinguishing the blaze, Shell Oil Co. officials said.
The fire broke out in an unidentified processing unit at about 3:40 p.m. Monday inside the Mississippi River oil complex between La. 70 and River Road along the Ascension Parish line.
Convent refinery spokesman Kevin Hardy Jr. said internal refinery firefighters put out the fire by 4:25 p.m.
He said the fire resulted in no injuries and no off-site impact as detected by fence line monitors.
Hardy would not say what kind of unit was affected, and it’s not clear what effect the fire would have on output from the 235,000-barrel-per-day facility that sits amid cane fields within sight of the Sunshine Bridge.
“For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we do not provide details about the operational status of individual units or information on supply,” said Kayla Macke, spokeswoman for Shell Oil.
Motiva Enterprises LLC is a 50-50 joint partnership between subsidiaries of Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia. Motiva is managed by Shell, and the Convent refinery is one of three owned by the partnership, the Motiva website says.
The Convent refinery is undergoing a turnaround, or routine maintenance work, as a number of cranes peeked up above the plant infrastructure Monday.
But Hardy said the fire was not related to “turnaround activity.” He would not say whether the affected unit was in operation at the time of the fire.
Hardy said the cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.
St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said sheriff’s deputies and emergency response officials on the scene reported a “pretty good-sized fire” while the blaze was going.
Capt. Doug Cain, a spokesman for the State Police, said refinery officials, in their notification to the agency, described it as a flash fire.
Fire departments across St. James Parish were notified about the fire and told to be on standby some time after 3 p.m., Lutcher Fire Chief Jason Amato said, but Martin said local departments did not end up responding. Amato said firefighters were later told to stand down because the site was secure.
No indication of the fire was visible during a visit to the plant’s main gate at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Hardy could not say how many workers were on the 750-acre plant grounds during the fire.
But he said the refinery has 600 Motiva employees and 300 to 350 contract workers and additional contractors can be on site during a turnaround, though those workers normally are not at the facility all at once.