A fiery explosion at a BP oil refinery in Toledo, Ohio, killed two workers and has forced the plant to shut down, the company confirmed on Wednesday.
“It is with deep sadness we report that two BP staff injured in a fire at the BP Husky Toledo Refinery have passed away,” the company said in a statement.
The fire at the BP-operated facility was put out Tuesday night but the oil refinery remains shut on Wednesday, the company said. Footage of the incident posted online showed a large fire and black smoke billowing from the plant.
The company did not provide any additional information on the workers killed in the fire or any additional injuries.
“The refinery was safely shut down and remains offline [Wednesday]. Our highest priority remains the safety of our staff, the responders and the public,” the company said. BP did not say how long the facility would remain closed or the extent of damage.
The Toledo plant can process about 160,000 barrels a day of crude and is fed primarily by supplies from Canada’s oil sands developments. It provides petrol, diesel and other fuel products for markets across the US Midwest.
BP agreed in August to sell its 50 per cent stake in the Toledo refinery for $300mn to Canadian oil group Cenovus, although that deal had not yet closed.
Analysts warned a sustained shut down could push pump prices higher amid already tight fuel supplies.
Petrol prices have fallen sharply in the US over the past two months after hitting a record high of $5 a gallon in June. The national average price of petrol was $3.68 a gallon on Wednesday, according to the American Automobile Association.
It is the latest in a string of deadly accidents at BP-run facilities in the US.
In 2010, an explosion at the company’s Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and released the US’s largest oil spill. In 2005, an explosion at the Texas City refinery killed 15 people and injured another 180.
An electrical fire at another BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, on August 25 forced that facility to briefly shut down.