At least 13 killed, 74 injured in Algerian gas blast

20 January 2004 06:21  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (CNI)--At least 13 workers have been killed and another 74 injured in a massive blast at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) and refinery complex in Skikda, Algeria, according to the North African nation's official news agency Algerie Presse Service (APS).

APS said the blast in Skikda, a port on the gas-rich nation's eastern Mediterranean coast which is 450 km east of the capital Algiers, ripped through the complex at about 18.40 local time (GMT1740) on Monday, destroying all three of the complex's LNG storage tanks.

The complex, run by the state-owned company Sonatrach, is Algeria's largest, processing around 15m tonne/year of crude oil, as well as aromatics and LNG. 

Sonatrach ranks itself as the 12th largest oil company in the world, the world's fourth largest exporter of LNG and the second largest exporter of liquified petroleum gas (LPG). About 12 000 employees work at its Skikda complex.

With firefighters and emergency services still battling to ensure the fire that followed the explosion did not spread to the refinery and other downstream plants, it was not clear what had caused the blast. Sonatrach executives were not immediately available for comment.

However, Algerian energy minister Chakib Khelil told Algerian radio after visiting the scene of the disaster that the LNG complex would have to be entirely rebuilt. The other six complexes at the port, as well as a nearby power station, had not been damaged, he said.

Algeria delivers about 60bn cubic metres of gas a year, mainly to the US and Europe.

By: James Dallmeyer
+65 6780 4359

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