At around 10:50 am this morning, the Motiva refinery in Convent, LA experienced
a massive fire in its H-Oil unit. The smoke and flames were visible from
miles away, and workers were immediately evacuated from the plant. On-site
firefighting personnel responded immediately—the fire was under
control in a little more than an hour. Regardles, county responders were
All employees and contract workers, numbering at about 700 personnel each,
were safe and accounted for. The investigation into the cause of the fire
is ongoing. Some speculated that the fire was caused by lightning, as
the weather was turbulent and stormy that morning.
However, the Motiva General Manager stated that lighting is an unlikely
culprit in this case.
The Motiva refinery produces gasoline, with a daily yield of roughly 230,000
barrels. It’s 1 of 3 Motiva refineries in a 120-mile radius, with
facilities in Norco and Port Arthur. Motiva is a joint operation owned
by Shell Oil and Saudi Armaco, but earlier this year they announced they
would be splitting up.
Motiva is currently monitoring air quality in the region to ensure the
safety of workers and residents. Local officials closed Hwy. 70 between
Hwys. 3125 and 22 temporarily to ensure driver safety as well.
The refinery company was the subject of an OSHA investigation in 2001 after
a boilermaker was killed by a storage tank explosion—a storage tank
containing sulfuric acid. The company was fined $175,000 for the death
of their employee, and fined $10 million for damage caused to local wildlife.
Arnold & Itkin is glad all the workers have been accounted for. We
hope the investigation provides clear answers about the cause of the fire,
and necessary steps are taken to prevent it from happening again.