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Fire damages St. Paul Park refinery

ST. PAUL PARK — A fire at the St. Paul Park oil refinery Sunday caused damage that will cost nearly $10 million to repair and reduced the facility’s production for the short term.

A fire broke out about 11:30 a.m. in a discharge pump of the plant’s larger crude distillation unit, refinery owner Northern Tier Energy of Connecticut said Monday.

St. Paul Park, Newport and Cottage Grove firefighters fought the fire with the refinery’s emergency response team, extinguishing it by 2:15 p.m. Nobody was injured.

Northern Tier Energy said the fire’s cause was under investigation and that the crude unit’s outage will last three to four weeks.

The refinery planned to restart its smaller crude distillation unit and downstream units, but it lowered its production estimate for the third quarter.

The company scheduled maintenance on a different section of the refinery -- a fluid catalytic cracking unit -- to begin Tuesday, but planned to start the turnaround immediately because of the refinery’s drop in production after the fire.

Northern Tier Energy bought the refinery from Marathon Petroleum in 2010. It also purchased 163 SuperAmerica gas stations and SuperMom’s bakeries from Marathon, and supports another 73 franchise SuperAmerica stations.

The refinery is one of two in Minnesota.

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