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Fire at Iran oil refinery raises further suspicions of Saudi retaliation

October 21, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Smoke rises after an oil spill caused an explosion in Iraq [Wim Zwijnenburg/Twitter]

A fire broke out on Saturday at Iran’s Abadan oil refinery located in the southwest of the country, although state media has reported that the fire was brought under control yesterday.

“The refinery’s fire department contained the fire and prevented it from spreading to other units,” state broadcaster IRIB said on its website, referring to the incident which took place in a canal carrying waste from the refinery.

Footage circulating on social media shows a huge blaze which adds fuel to speculation that it could be a possible revenge attack by Saudi Arabia over the 14 September Aramco attacks. Blamed on Tehran, the attack halved the crude output of the world’s top oil exporter. Tehran denied any involvement in the attack, with the Houthis of Yemen claiming responsibility. Earlier in the month, an Iranian oil tanker was set ablaze in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi, no fatalities were reported. Tehran named the US, Israel and Saudi as the culprits behind the attack.

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Iranian opposition sources claim the fire was caused by a “cyber attack” although these claims have not been verified.

Built in 1912, Abadan refinery was the first of its kind in Iran and once was the largest in the world. It was heavily damaged during the Iran-Iraq war. It now refines 400,000 barrels of crude every day. Abadan refinery has attracted major foreign investment, with a Chinese firm Sinopec signing a $1.2 billion modernisation deal with Iran’s oil ministry at the facility in 2016. Earlier this year it was announced that Sinopec had invested $2.2 billion in development projects at the refinery since 2017.

READ: Iran economy to shrink 9.5% this year amid tighter US sanctions, says IMF