MRC -- Last weekend, a significant fire engulfed the olefin plant of Sinopec Qilu Petrochemical Corp, situated within its expansive manufacturing complex in Zibo, Shandong province, said Chemanalyst.
The incident unfolded at 09:25 local time on December 23, prompting an immediate response from emergency services. Fortunately, the fire was swiftly brought under control, and no casualties were reported, as stated by the company through the Chinese social media platform Weibo. Despite the quick containment, the cause of the fire remains undetermined, leaving investigators to delve into the circumstances surrounding this unexpected event.
The olefins plant, at the center of the incident, boasts an annual production capacity of 900,480 tonnes of ethylene and 280,750 tonnes of propylene. This sizable capacity underscores the critical role the facility plays in the production of key petrochemical components.
In the aftermath of the fire, there were repercussions on the production front, extending beyond the olefins plant. The market reported a suspension in the production of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), styrene, and benzene at the Qilu Petrochemical complex. This suspension is a precautionary measure to assess and mitigate any potential impact on product quality and safety protocols, underscoring the complex interdependence of various processes within the facility.
Furthermore, the incident prompted Qilu to implement a reduction in the utilization of its refinery, which has a daily capacity of 70,202 barrels per day. The reduction, spanning from 2% to 38%, is indicative of the strategic adjustments made to ensure operational stability and safety in the aftermath of the fire. The decision reflects the company's commitment to meticulous risk management and adherence to stringent safety measures.
In addition to the impact on production and refinery utilization, there were broader implications for the region's handling of hazardous chemicals. Reports from market sources indicate the suspension of loading and unloading activities involving hazardous chemicals due to the aftermath of the explosion. This precautionary measure is a testament to the diligence exercised by regulatory bodies and industry stakeholders to avert potential risks associated with the handling of volatile substances in the aftermath of a major industrial incident.
The recent fire incident at the Qilu Petrochemical complex sheds light on the inherent challenges and risks associated with large-scale petrochemical operations. While the prompt containment and absence of casualties are commendable, the incident serves as a reminder of the need for continuous vigilance, robust safety protocols, and thorough investigations to ascertain the root causes of such events. Industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and the company itself will likely engage in comprehensive reviews and collaborative efforts to enhance safety standards, mitigate risks, and ensure the resilient and sustainable operation of petrochemical facilities in the future.
We remind, Sinopec Corp has applied to the government to swap some of its marine fuel export quotas for allowances to export light products such as diesel, jet fuel or gasoline, four China-based industry sources said this week. Asia's largest refiner has asked to swap a quota to export 800,000 metric tons of low-sulfur fuel oil, part of the 3 million tons of marine fuel quota recently issued by Beijing, for a similar amount of allowances for light product exports, the sources said. Approval could come by the end of October, one of the sources said.