Chevron flies in experts for Pembroke refinery inquiry

Fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Pembroke Chevron said the explosion happened during routine maintenance of one of its storage tanks at 1820 BST on Thursday

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The owners of a Pembrokeshire oil refinery are flying in experts from the US to help investigate the cause of an explosion which killed four people.

Another was badly injured in the blast at Chevron's plant in Pembroke on Thursday evening.

The family of a woman who died has confirmed to the BBC that she was Julie Jones, a 55-year-old fire guard.

An industry expert says the investigation will be followed by oil companies around the world.

Chevron said the explosion happened during routine maintenance of one of its storage tanks.

Start Quote

They will be desperate to find out what caused this”

End Quote Danny Fellowes Oil refinery expert

Company spokeswoman Jane James said it had launched its own investigation into the tragedy and it would run in tandem with another by the Health and Safety Executive.

"As part of the investigation we are bringing over subject matter experts from the US who will be joining our local experts," she said.

Local councillor Danny Fellowes, a former union official at the plant who is now an adviser to refineries across the UK, told BBC Radio Wales the company would be "agonising" over what happened.

"Chevron as a refinery pump millions of pounds per annum into health and safety procedures - it's a zero tolerance on health and safety," he said.

Unstable building

"They will be desperate to find out what caused this incident."

He did not believe there was anything similar to this tragedy in the industry worldwide.

"The rest of the oil refinery industry are extremely interested in what happened here and [will ask if there are] lessons to be learned."

Chief Superintendent Dean Richards: 'Recovery of bodies will be a slow and methodical process'

Dyfed-Powys Police have confirmed that all four of the dead, along with the man being treated at a specialist unit in Swansea's Morriston Hospital, were from Pembrokeshire.

It said the recovery of the bodies was being made more difficulty by the unstable nature of the building.

The refinery employs about 1,400 people.

In March, Chevron confirmed Texan oil company Valero Energy had agreed to buy the refinery for $730m (£446m) and pay a further $1bn (£611m) for the stocks of oil, petrol and other products on site.

Daniel O'Connell, a stockbroker and energy analyst at Redmayne-Bentley in Newport, told BBC Wales he still expected the deal to proceed.

"I can understand why this awful event will cause some worry but I really can't see how it will stop the sale," he said.

"The Pembroke oil refinery has a superb safety record and is a very good business.

"From our perspective here in Wales it's devastation. But on a broader scale the global players - it sounds horrible - but they almost expect some of these things to happen from time to time.

"We all know that the oil industry is a very dangerous game."

Location map The refinery is close to the Pembrokeshire coast

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