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DALLAS -- An explosion and fire at Alon Energy USA Inc.'s 70,000-barrel-a-day Big Spring refinery will shut the plant for approximately two months, when it should resume partial operations, the company said.
Alon markets gasoline and diesel products under the FINA brand name and is a leading producer of asphalt. Alon operates more than 300 convenience stores in West Texas and New Mexico primarily under the 7-Eleven and FINA brand names and supplies motor fuels to these stores from its Big Spring refinery. In addition, Alon supplies approximately 800 additional FINA branded locations.
"We are developing contingency supply plans for our customers and expect to have those in place in the next few days," said Jeff D. Morris, Alon's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are also in the process of developing an operating plan for repairing the facility and bringing the refinery back into operation as soon as possible. Based on our preliminary assessment, our goal is to resume partial operations in approximately two months.
"The company has property damage and business interruption insurance in place which we believe will be adequate to address the damages associated with this incident."
Four of the refinery's 170 employees were injured in the blast on Monday. All but one were released from the hospital. Another is being treated for burns and is believed to be in stable condition.
The cause of the explosion, which occurred in the area around the propylene splitter unit, has not yet been determined. However, the fire has been extinguished, allowing the investigation to begin as soon as reasonably possible, the company said. The extent of the damage is still being evaluated, but an initial assessment showed that the propylene recovery unit was destroyed and equipment in the alkylation and gas concentration units were damaged in the fire.
"The entire Board of Directors and Alon Israel stand behind the Company and its management team and will support them as they take all necessary actions to resume operations at the refinery," added David Wiessman, Alon's executive chairman and chairman of Alon Israel Oil Co. Ltd, the company's majority shareholder.
Alon's Big Spring refinery is located 290 miles west of Dallas in West Central Texas. It is one of four Alon refineries.