HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc said a fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon on a residual hydrotreater at the company's 400,780-barrels-per-day Texas City, Texas, refinery, but no injuries were reported.

The fire forced the evacuation of a section of the plant, BP spokesman Scott Dean said.

The blaze was being fought by the refinery's fire department, Dean said.

The fire was expected to continue for several hours before burning itself out, the Texas City Emergency Management Office said.

A residual hydrotreater uses hydrogen to remove sulfur from crude oil residuals before they are processed in refining units. Crude oil residuals are heavy, tar-like portions of a barrel of crude oil.

The blaze created a large plume of smoke over the refinery that could be seen up to 5 miles away. Nearby residents were not told to take special precautions to prevent exposure to the smoke, according to the Emergency Management Office.

BP announced on October 8 that it would sell the BP refinery, the nation's sixth largest, in a $2.5-billion deal to Marathon Petroleum Corp.

In the sale to Marathon, the refinery has a base price of $598 million and Marathon will pay up to an additional $700 million over six years depending on the plant's profitability. The company also agreed to pay BP an estimated $1.2 billion for crude and product inventories.

The Texas City refinery was the site of the deadliest U.S. refinery accident in the 21st century when a March 2005 explosion killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba and Kristen Hays; Editing by Dale Hudson and Carol Bishopric)




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