The Mina al-Ahmadi oil refinery in a satellite photo, January 12, 2021.
Planet Labs PBC via AP
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A fire broke out Friday in Kuwait during maintenance work at a major oil refinery, killing two workers and seriously injuring five others, the Kuwait National Petroleum Company said.
It is the second fire to break out at the Mina al-Ahmadi oil refinery in as little as three months. In October, the state oil company reported that a fire had broken out at the facility, with some workers suffering from smoke inhalation and others being treated for minor burns.
In this latest fire, the company said, two Asian contract workers died. Their bodies were discovered at the scene.
The company initially said 10 workers were injured in the blaze, with five being treated at a nearby hospital for severe burns and two others for moderate burns. Others received treatment at an on-site clinic. The company later said the five severely burned people were transferred to another hospital in critical condition.
The company said the fire started at a gas liquefaction unit which had been taken out of service for maintenance work. The fire was extinguished and refinery operations were not affected as the damaged unit was already out of service.
Kuwait’s Oil Minister Mohammed al-Fares and other top executives from the state-owned company visited the refinery after the fire. They were seen punching firefighters and standing in front of the blast site for photos that were shared by the Kuwait National Petroleum Company Twitter account.
The refinery was built to process 25,000 barrels of oil per day to supply Kuwait’s domestic market primarily with gasoline and diesel. The facility recently underwent an expansion to reduce emissions and increase capacity to 346,000 barrels per day.
Kuwait, a country of 4.1 million people, has the sixth largest known oil reserves in the world.