MOSCOW (MRC) -- Two people were killed in an explosion at Astron Energy’s 100,000 barrel per day refinery in Cape Town early on Thursday, reported Reuters with reference to emergency officials' confirmation.
The Western Cape’s emergency medical services said one male and one female died on site and seven people sustained minor injuries and were taken to hospital.
The fire at South Africa’s third-biggest crude oil refinery started at around 4 a.m. (0200 GMT), said Astron Energy, which is majority owned by commodities trader Glencore.
“The resultant fire has been contained and all work on the plant has been suspended,” said a spokeswoman.
She said Astron would release an updated statement later.
The Milnerton plant, which had been in the process of restarting after undergoing extended maintenance, was shut down after this morning’s fire.
“At first I thought it was thunder, but it was just like one big rumble and you could feel the vibrations,” said Felix Holm, who lives some 500 metres away from the refinery.
“It woke me up, the explosion,” he told Reuters.
The refinery, which Glencore acquired as part of an almost USD1 billion deal with Chevron, earlier this year completed a 400 million rand (USD23.69 million) upgrade to produce very low sulphur fuel for ships docking in Cape Town port.
The shutdown comes at a crucial time for South Africa as it reopens after its COVID-19-related lockdown. Industry body SAPIA said in May that the country was facing a diesel shortage due to a spike in demand as restrictions on movement eased.
Africa’s most industrialised economy is a net importer of crude and petroleum products.
As MRC informed earlier, following Sasol’s (Johannesburg) announcement on 17 March of steps it is taking to overcome its financial problems, the company has informed the Johannesburg stock exchange that it is taking further actions in response to the fast-developing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
We remind that in mid December 2019, Sasol announced that the LCCP Ethane Cracker was increasing production rates following the successful replacement of the acetylene reactor catalyst. Sasol’s Ethane Cracker with a nameplate capacity of 1.54 million tons per year achieved beneficial operation in August 2019 but has run approximately 50-60% of nameplate capacity due to underperformance of the plant’s acetylene removal system. The company stated that the issue had been resolved then.
Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 595,170 tonnes in the first five month of 2020, up by 10% year on year. Deliveries of all ethylene polymers, except for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), rose partially because of an increase in capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.