DAMASCUS – Firefighters extinguished a blaze Sunday in a distillation unit at one of Syria’s two oil refineries, Syrian state TV reported.
No one was hurt, but the fire caused some damage to the facility, a refinery official said. The TV named the cause of the fire as crude oil leakage from one of the pumping stations at the Homs Oil Refinery in the central province of Homs.
The fire came amid a series of mysterious attacks on vessels and oil facilities in Syria over the past months. The war-torn country has been suffering from fuel shortages in recent months.
The head of Homs Oil Refinery, Suleiman Mohammed, told state TV that the distillation unit that caught fire is one of four at the refinery.
In addition to the refinery in Homs, Syria has another one near the coastal town of Banias. Both are government-run and operating.
Syria’s oil resources are mostly outside of government controlled areas.
Syria controls some small oil and gas fields in the country’s center but most of the country’s large fields in the east are controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters. This has made Damascus reliant on Iran for fuel.
The U.S. Treasury sanctions have targeted a network that spanned Syria, Iran and Russia responsible for shipping oil to the Syrian government.
In late April, Syria’s oil ministry said a fire erupted in an oil tanker on its coast after what it said was a suspected drone attack. Syrian state media reported a day later that it was not a drone attack but rather that the tanker caught fire.
Fire broke out on the same tanker, still docked off the coastal town of Banias, due to engine problems on Saturday, state TV reported. The tanker was empty when the fire broke out and it was extinguished shortly afterward, according to pro-government media.
In January, an explosion in an oil tanker outside a state fuel distribution company in Homs caused massive fire. The minister of oil told Syrian state TV at the time that seven tankers caught fire but there were no civilian casualties.