RIO DE JANEIRO – A fire burned Monday afternoon at the Manguinhos refinery, located in the northern section of Rio de Janeiro and one of the few private oil refineries in Brazil, destroying part of the complex and several parked tanker trucks, but no one was injured, the facility’s management said.
The fire, whose cause has not been determined, started around 1:30 pm and was not brought under control for about two hours, forcing city officials to close roads around the refinery.
The refinery’s management said no one was injured or burned because workers evacuated quickly.
Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading beyond the area where tanker trucks unload crude, preventing damage to the giant storage tanks, pipelines and refining equipment.
The blaze, according to the fire department, started in one of the tanker trucks that was unloading its cargo, destroying six trucks parked nearby.
Firefighters sprayed water on storage tanks to keep flames from reaching the areas where fuel is stored.
A towering plume of black smoke rose above the refinery, prompting some residents of neighboring residential districts and “favelas,” or shantytowns, to heed firefighters’ recommendations and evacuate.
The fire department has already given residents authorization to return home.
The Manguinhos refinery, which is owned by the Grupo Andrade Margo, is one of just two private oil refineries operating in Brazil, where state-controlled oil giant Petrobras has a near monopoly on refining crude oil.
The refinery, which has operated for nearly 60 years, specializes in producing gasoline.
The Manguinhos refinery is a small facility that has a production capacity of about 45 million liters of gasoline per month.
Two years ago, the refinery filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors.
A restructuring plan was approved by the bankruptcy court, opening the way for new investment to modernize the refinery.
Grupo Andrade Margo, which employs about 300 people, was involved in a dispute from 2012 to 2015 with the Rio de Janeiro state government, which wanted to take the property on which the complex is located.
The Supreme Court ruled against the state government in the case.
In 1998, when Congress ended Petrobras’s monopoly in the fuel industry, Argentina’s YPF acquired a 50 percent stake in the Manguinhos refinery.
Spain’s Repsol ended up with the ownership interest when it acquired YPF.
Repsol and the other partners were unable to reach an agreement on the refinery’s business model and Brazil’s Grupo Andrade Margo ended up acquiring 100 percent of the complex in December 2008.