Skip to content

3 Major Process Safety Incidents since 2010

Tesoro Explosion

Major incidents in the oil and gas industries highlight the importance of having robust processes and systems in place. Process safety is especially important for the oil and gas industry and aids in the prevention of incidents. When incidents do occur, they result in the release of hazardous materials and have huge environmental aspects. As seen in the 3 incidents below, process safety incidents are lethal and very costly.


Williams Olefins Plant Explosion and Fire

The explosion was caused by the failure of a heat exchanger, which resulted in 2 workers killed and 114 injured. A rupture in the heat exchanger caused a vapour cloud which was ignited by an unknown source, causing the explosion. Investigations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) revealed that the plant had 6 process safety management standard violations.

A large fire erupted in the number 4 crude distillation unit, caused by a diesel leak in a line in the crude distillation unit. The flames were put out about 5 hours later. Reports estimated that more than 15,000 people sought treatment for respiratory problems and 6 employees who were at the scene of the fire suffered varying degrees of injury. In 2013, the company pleaded no contest to six charges in connection with the fire, and agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution.


Tesoro Explosion

An explosion and fire led to the fatal injury of 7 employees when a nearly 40 year-old heat exchanger catastrophically failed during a maintenance operation to switch a process stream between two parallel banks of exchangers at the Tesoro refinery. The pressure-containing shell of the heat exchanger burst at its weld seams, expelling a large volume of very hot hydrogen and naphtha, which spontaneously ignited upon contact with the surrounding air. The accident was the state’s worst industrial disaster in 50 years.



Useful Links

  • EPSC – European Process Safety Centre
  • OSHA – S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration


Excellence In Plants’ Process Safety & Risk Management is a 3-day training course held from 26 – 28 November 2018 (Kuala Lumpur) to allow participants to learn how to develop and implement best practices in process safety management in process plants. Participants will learn to recognise process safety risks and be able to apply key techniques for analysing them. For more information, please visit us at or contact us at .


Interested to read more articles about Process Safety?  Check out 3 Lethal Process Safety Incidents


Opus Kinetic believes that people are why organisations are successful, and giving people the knowledge to perform well at their job is integral for success. We pride ourselves as the premier provider of knowledge, offering acclaimed in-house trainings, and many others professional training courses spanning from various industries. Our training courses are well researched and updated with the latest industry trends. For more information on our professional training programs, you can visit us at

HTML Snippets Powered By :