Fri, Sep 30, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Fire breaks out at Shell refinery in Singapore: SCDF

AFP, SINGAPORE

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell said yesterday it had shut down some units at a major Singapore refinery because of a fire, as emergency crews battled to extinguish the blaze.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said there had been a “surge” in the fire at the manufacturing facility, but the blaze was still contained in a specific area.

Shell said the fire broke out on Wednesday at its refinery in Pulau Bukom, an islet 5km off Singapore and prompted the evacuation of non-essential staff.

“We believe it was an accident. A full investigation will be conducted once the fire is put out,” the company said in a statement.

The SCDF said operations were still underway and that it had replaced firefighters who had been working overnight with a fresh crew.

“There has been a surge in the fire at the manufacturing facility. The fire is still contained within the bund wall,” the SCDF said in a separate statement. “Boundary cooling operation is still being carried out to prevent heat exposure to the nearby storage tanks.”

Shell said that as a safety precaution, “units in the vicinity of the fire incident remain shut down.”

The plant is Shell’s biggest in the world in terms of crude distillation capacity, with a maximum output of 500,000 barrels a day.

The plant produces fuels, lubricants and specialty chemicals, mostly for export.

Shell said one company firefighter “sustained a superficial injury and five other firefighters had heat exhaustion and pulled muscles.”

Singapore’s civil defense force said the fire involved petroleum products from pipes in a “tank farm” at the facility.

The blaze has been contained within an area measuring 150m by 50m, the SCDF said.

The SCDF said 21 water jets were being used to prevent nearby storage tanks from being exposed to the heat.

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