Air trapped in a hydrocarbon line was enough to ignite a Feb. 11 fire that spread through a pipe rack at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the company announced Monday.
ExxonMobil is taking steps to ensure that valves associated with the air getting into the line are locked in a closed position in the future, the company said.
Reuters reported in March that four crude distillation units were affected by the fire in a natural gas pipeline that supplied fuel to the heaters on the CDUs.
An investigation conducted by ExxonMobil determined that the initial fire caused the pipe involved to leak, WAFB reports. As the leaking hydrocarbon burned the heat compromised neighboring lines in the same pipe rack, further extending the flames.
Breaking out shortly before midnight, the fire burned for nearly seven hours before being extinguished. The in-house fire brigade, joined by firefighters from other nearby ExxonMobil operations, handled the fire without assistance from outside agencies.
No injuries were reported in the blaze. All four CDUs were back in service within a month of the fire.
ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery is the fifth-largest in the United States and ranks 13th worldwide. It has an input capacity of 502,000 barrels per day.
Industrial Fire World is scheduled to publish a feature on the dangers of pipe rack and pipe alley fire in its upcoming Spring 2020 issue.