VILNIUS - Larger intervals between maintenance at Mazeikiu Nafta, the only oil refining and transportation complex in the Baltic states, could have been the reason for a major fire that ravaged the plant in October, the governmental commission investigating the accident said on Nov. 15.
If so, company management would have to assume responsibility for the fact that required maintenance had not been conducted as often as necessary, one commission member told the Lietuvos Rytas daily.
Most of the maintenance decisions were made by Paul Nelson English, Mazeikiu Nafta's American born CEO, and his deputy for engineering, Barton Lee Luck. Just last week, a number of Yukos board members resigned after protesting English's style of management. On top of this, Mazeikiu union members complained that English cut corners at the refinery.
One employee of Mazeikiu Nafta noted, however, that the board was also to blame because it approved an action plan that specified, among other things, a major overhaul of investment intervals.
Giedrius Karsokas, Mazeikiu Nafta's communications director, admitted that the intervals between major overhauls had been extended. However, installations at the refinery have been maintained on other occasions as well, he pointed out, adding that the board of Mazeikiu Nafta also approved the extension.
In 2003-2005, Mazeikiu Nafta's maintenance expenditures ran at 150 million litas (43.5 million euros). Karsokas pointed out that maintenance allocations under the management of English have been the largest ever.
The refinery's last scheduled overhaul, which lasted 40 days, took place in spring 2003.