Chevron temporarily suspends operations at Tianjin lube blending plant

Chevron Corp. temporarily suspended operations at a lube blending plant in China’s eastern city of Tianjin following a series of explosions at a nearby warehouse that killed at least 50 people and injured more than 700 people. The blasts occurred on the evening of Aug. 12 in a dockside warehouse being used by Ruihai International Logistics Co., which handles chemicals and other potentially toxic materials. The cause of the blasts is still unknown. A health official said that readings taken near the blast site for some chemical pollutants were above regulatory thresholds.

A Chevron spokesman said in a statement that the Chevron lube blending plant, located about 5 kilometers from the blast site, did not sustain immediate visible damage. Chevron said operations would resume “once the blast area is stabilized.”

More than 1,000 firefighters were deployed to the scene, Zhou Tian, chief of Tianjin’s fire department, told a televised news conference. A light-rail station and some residential buildings near the warehouse were damaged by the explosions. The blasts prompted some nearby businesses and government agencies to suspend work, including Chevron’s lube blending plant. Tianjin is one of China’s car production hubs and therefore, several lube blending plants operated by major oil companies are also located in Tianjin. Dongfeng Renault Automobile Co., a joint venture between France’s Renault and China’s Dongfeng Motor Group, said the explosion destroyed about 1,500 of its vehicles in the vicinity. Hyundai said it has about 4,000 vehicles parked in yards at Tianjin port, but was still assessing the extent of the damage. Toyota Motor said it was told some of its vehicles were affected by the explosion but that it was still trying to establish the extent of the damage.

Municipal officials said they have evacuated housing compounds near the blast, and put up 3,500 people so far in temporary shelters in schools and elsewhere.