In 2018, U.S. refiners processed almost 17 million barrels of crude oil every day, the most in the nation’s history, as it cashes in on a boom in shale oil.
However, many have the decades-old infrastructure, risking outages that could value the business billions.
The PES refinery is among nearly 30 in the USA that is over a century previous, while an evaluation of over 100 operating U.S. refineries that process over 10,000 barrels of crude oil a day showed they’re on average 80 years old.
Refineries frequently upgrade their systems and change old components, however, the PES fire, along with events in Washington state and California earlier this decade, originated from equipment installed in the Seventies that had been allowed to run to failure, based on U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reviews.
The suspected explanation for the PES explosion has heightened fears about future events because of the leeway given to refiners for inspecting components, and because some older equipment is excluded from more stringent standards for newly installed components.
The June 21 Philadelphia blaze was connected to corroded piping that had not been checked since it was built in 1973, based on the CSB’s initial findings. The fire remains to be under investigation by the CSB and other public companies.
It sparked a fuel leak and explosions that sent poisonous hydrofluoric acid (HF) into the air and threw debris the size of a tractor-trailer across a nearby river, the CSB’s report mentioned.