MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Africa’s second-largest crude oil refinery, the Engen plant in Durban, has been shut down to allow investigators a chance to find out the cause of a “fire incident” earlier on Friday, reported Reuters with reference to Engen's statement.
Engen, which operates the 120,000 barrel per day plant and is majority owned by Malaysia’s Petronas, said a fire broke out at around 0510 GMT and was extinguished by 0645 GMT.
“Engen is currently assessing its overall bulk fuels supply and demand position and implementing immediate mitigations to manage inventory and product supply requirements,” Engen said in an update.
Local emergency services said seven people were injured, although Engen said no injuries were recorded and all refinery personnel were accounted for.
“I saw a massive fireball at the centre of the refinery with thick black smoke billowing from it,” Durban resident Shane Lloyd Pretorius told Reuters.
Engen said in a statement that the cause of the fire was under investigation.
A Reuters witness at the scene saw several fire engines spraying foam onto the affected part of the refinery, as well as ambulances, metropolitan police and national police standing by.
Africa’s most industrialised economy has six refineries, four using crude oil and two synthetic fuel as feedstock. It is a net importer of petroleum products.
The country’s third-biggest crude oil refinery, a 100,000 bpd facility operated by Astron Energy in Cape Town, also suffered an explosion earlier this year.
Top refinery SAPREF, which is also located in Durban and is a joint venture between BP and Shell, said the incident at Engen’s facility had no impact on its operations.
The Engen Refinery and SAPREF form part of a major petrochemical hub on the east coast close to Durban’s port.
As MRC informed previously, in June 2019, Malaysian state oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd, or Petronas, and Saudi Aramco started operations at their new 1.2-million-tonnes-per-year naphtha cracker. The cracker is part of the USD2.7 billion joint-venture oil refinery and petrochemical project known as RAPID - or Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development - located in Pengerang in the state of Johor, at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia.
Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,760,950 tonnes in the first ten months of 2020, up by 3% year on year. Only high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 978,870 tonnes in January-October 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports minus producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply of exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.