US oil major Chevron Corp. was partly to blame for a June 18 accident caused by a gas leak at Kuwait's Shuaiba refinery that killed two oil workers, a ministerial commission said Sunday. The commission, formed by Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah, blamed Chevron for a number of alleged technical mistakes in the preparation of an aviation fuel unit for operation, Al-Watan newspaper reported.
But Chevron Corp. rejected the findings and voiced dismay. "We deny any responsibility. We are shocked, surprised and disappointed. Safety is absolutely crucial to our firm," a spokesman for Chevron told AFP. The commission called on the legal department of Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), which owns all three of the emirate's refineries, to study the possibility of taking legal action against the giant US firm.
The call comes just one week after a separate parliamentary commission urged the oil ministry to take legal action against Chevron, holding it responsible for the accident at Shuaiba. Chevron has already denied it was involved in any way in the fatal accident.
Two Kuwaitis died of suffocation from hydrogen sulphide gas which leaked at one of the units at Shuaiba refinery, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Kuwait City. The unit was due to begin operations with the help of Chevron after a long shutdown after it was destroyed during the US-led military offensive that evicted occupation Iraqi forces in 1991. It operated briefly in 1994 but has since remained closed.
Shuaiba, with production of 195,000 barrels a day, is smaller than Kuwait's two other refineries at Al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah. Total production at the refineries is around 900,000 barrels per day.
A second huge explosion on June 25 wrecked the oil-rich emirate's largest refinery at Al-Ahmadi, killing six people and wounding 50 others. The refinery has not resumed operations since.
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )