An explosion at Abadan oil refinery during a visit today by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad killed two people and injured 12. The president was not injured and appeared on state television shortly after the blast, but made no mention of it.
Thick smoke was seen rising from the largest refinery in the country, but firefighters had the blaze reportedly under control. Iranian officials were quick to say that the attack was an accident.
“This incident was not an act of sabotage,” Hamid Reza Katouzian, the head of Iran's parliamentary energy committee told reporters. “Experts had forewarned that (the new addition to) Abadan refinery was not ready to be inaugurated,” he added. "The incident in Abadan refinery was due to technical problems" [Fars News Agency, 24 May].
The new addition to the oldest refinery in Iran, where the explosion occurred, was built to produce high-quality gasoline.
[The storied Abadan refinery is the site of the historic standoff in 1951 between the British and Mohammad Mossadeq, the leader of oil nationalization movement in Iran, who became prime minister and nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (today’s BP) and sent troops to occupy the refinery and take it back from the British.]