Five Deadliest Onshore Oil & Gas Blasts

Tim Haïdar

In the light of the recent tragic events at PDVSA's Amuay facility in Venezuela, Oil & Gas IQ looks at the

The Norco Refinery Explosion


May 5, 1988

Location: Norco, Diamond County, Louisiana, USA

Casualties: 7 fatalities, 42 injured

Estimated cost: $ 706 million

Details: The explosion at this Shell-owned oil refinery occurred at 3:40 am on the morning of May 5th after gas escaped from a corroded pipe in one of the facility's catalytic cracking units and was ignited. The resulting major explosion hurled debris as much as eight kilometres away from the blast epicentre and was heard 40 kilometres away in the state capital, New Orleans.

Unfortunately, this was not the first deadly industrial accident centred around the Norco refinery. Some 15 years previously, a gas leak from a ruptured pipeline was ignited by a spark from a local resident's lawnmower, killing two people.