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Saudi Red Sea refineries not threatened by volcano
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia |
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia May 23 (Reuters) - Recent seismic activity in a volcanic region in Saudi Arabia does not present nearby oil refineries with any danger, officials said on Saturday.
Authorities have evacuated thousands of people from the northwestern al-Ais region after a series of tremors hit the volcanic area over the past few weeks, culminating with a 5.4 Richter scale tremor on Tuesday, few hours after a 4.8 tremor.
Saudi Arabia has three oil refineries on the Red Sea coast, two of which in the port of Yanbu, about 150 km away from al-Ais.
"I don't think it's going to have any impact...It's not going to have a significant impact. We are 150 km away from the area," said a source at the export-oriented 400,000 bpd Samref joint-venture refinery between Aramco and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N).
But a spokesman for the Royal Commission for Yanbu, which oversees industrial developments at the industrial port, said that Aramco is seeking "more accurate information on potential developments should the situation worsen".
An Aramco spokesman could not be reached for comment.
An official at the 400,000 bpd Rabigh refinery, located about 300 km away from al-Ais, said the plant has not taken any precautions because it was far from the trouble zone.
The 235,000 bpd Yanbu refinery, operated by Aramco to cater for domestic needs, is the closest of the three to al-Ais, but the plant was built to resist earthquakes.
"The earthquake is far from us ... The refinery is designed in such a way to withstand more than a six degree earthquake on the Richter scale. Pipelines are more than 140 kilometres away from al-Ais area," said an official from Yanbu refinery.
Al-Ais, an ancient resting place for caravans travelling between the western and southern cities of the Arabian Peninsula and Syria, has an estimated population of around 60,000. (Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; Editing by Victoria Main)
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