Deer Park Fire: What happens at the chemical plant? Why is there confusion with PEMEX?

The Shell Deer Park chemical plant went up in flames on Friday afternoon sending large clouds of black smoke into the sky.

Preliminary reports say there was a type of explosion at the chemical plant at 5900 SH-225 at East Beltway, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

FIRE: Deer Park Fire: Plant goes up in blaze, large clouds of black smoke; no shelter in place issued

What happens at the Shell chemical plant

According to the Shell website, the Shell plant was added in the 1940s and was originally 800 acres.

The site operates 24 hours a day and is a unique combination of processing equipment, control rooms, storage tanks, environmental protection equipment, office buildings, shops, and warehouses – all run by highly skilled, well-trained, and experienced employees.

MORE: Deer Park Fire: Plant goes up in blaze, large clouds of black smoke; no shelter in place issued

This chemical plant manufactures base chemicals or raw material chemicals and sells them to other chemical companies that turn them into thousands of consumer products.

Most chemicals from Deer Park are shipped via pipelines, but the site also uses ships, barges, rail cars and trucks to supply customers in the U.S. and foreign countries, the website states.


Key chemical plant business categories include:

  • Light Olefins – ethylene, propylene and butylenes for plastics, pharmaceuticals, insecticides, antifreeze, detergents, etc
  • Heavy Olefins – isoprene, butadiene and piperylene for latex paints, adhesives, tapes, wire coating, synthetic rubbers, ink, etc.
  • Phenol – phenol and acetone for plastics, wood preservatives, dyes, antiseptic products, agricultural chemicals and other products.

Click here to read more on the Shell website.

Confusion with PEMEX Deer Park Refinery

On May 24, 2021, Shell and PEMEX Refinery announced they signed an agreement for PEMEX to acquire Shell's 50.005% interest in Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership, a 50-50 joint venture.

With PEMEX taking Shell's 50.005% interest full ownership of the refinery was transferred to PEMEX. Shell chemical plant will continue to operate its 100% owned Deer Park Chemicals facility located adjacent to the site.

The Shell plant was the facility that caught on fire, not the PEMEX Refinery.

According to a representative, the two facilities are on the same property, but they own and operate their own separate units and pieces of land.