Multiple Basra fires expose poor safety standards

Lax oversight, outdated infrastructure, and extreme heat combust as Iraq’s oil capital suffers three fire emergencies in a single day.

Iraqi fire-fighting teams battle a blaze at the West Qurna 1 oil field's Gas Separation Station No. 7 on July 15, 2021, as seen in this screenshot from a video of the fire provided to Iraq Oil Report. (STAFF/Iraq Oil Report)
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Published Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

BASRA - Three fires struck Basra oil facilities in separate and seemingly unrelated incidents on a single day last week.

The incidents had no significant impact on oil and gas operations, but they highlight the ways in which the lax safety standards and poor management of public infrastructure that recently caused two devastating hospital fires can also affect Iraq’s oil sector.

On July 15, a fire broke out in a crude booster facility of a gas separation plant at the West Qurna 1 oil field; at the Basra refinery complex, a truck loading naphtha, a highly flammable refined oil product, caught fire; and an electrical fire broke out in a building housing the offices of the state-run Basra Oil Company (BOC), which oversees oil and gas operations in the province.

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