Fire sparks at oil refinery in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi Arabian oil refinery was shut down Monday because of a fire – in the second accident in two weeks.

The Saudi Aramco Lubricating Oil Refining Company, Luberef, announced the fire in a statement published in several Saudi newspapers, saying it occurred two days ago at one of its refineries south of Jiddah but was put out shortly thereafter without any casualties. Luberef is a joint venture between Saudi's state oil company, Aramco, and ExxonMobil.

Luberef's chief Omar Bazuhair said in the statement that the fire would not affect the company's supplies and the refinery would be reopened "within a short period of time after carrying out some tests on the products."

Bazuhair said the fire started Saturday night in a storage tank when a malfunctioning cooling fan ignited a propane leak.

Al-Watan newspaper, which is deemed close to the Saudi government, said the security presence around the site of the accident was very heavy, with police blocking off the area.

Two weeks ago, more than 40 people died in a gas pipeline explosion in Aramco's Hawiyah gas plant in eastern Saudi Arabia, but the accident did not disrupt gas supplies.

Also Monday, Al-Watan quoted Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as saying that "our security apparatus, which is ranked among the best in the world, has thwarted more than 180 terrorist operations now."

"If only 30 percent of these operations had been successful, God forbid, the country would have been hit by a great catastrophe," Prince Nayef told reporters at a press conference Sunday night, according to Al-Watan.

Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that it had arrested 208 suspected al-Qaida-linked terrorists in six cells and thwarted several planned attacks, including one on an oil installation in the eastern part of the country.

Prince Nayef said his ministry would not publish the pictures or names of the alleged terrorists because the investigation was ongoing.

The interior minister also criticized radical clerics in Saudi Arabia, saying "those speakers are more dangerous than the terrorists themselves."

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Author`s name Angela Antonova