Boiler blast led to Algeria LNG explosion; death toll at 23

20 January 2004 17:56  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (CNI)--A boiler blast was said late Tuesday to be the cause of fatal explosions at three liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks at Algerian energy and chemicals group Sonatrach’s Skikda complex yesterday, CNI has been told.


The death toll from the destruction of half the complex’s LNG tanks had increased to 23 by late afternoon. Five workers were still on the critical list, and another 69 were injured.


LNG and chemicals production at Skikda has been temporarily halted by the government to enable investigations to proceed. The fires are no longer burning and the site is safe, said a spokeswoman for state-owned Sonatrach.


No information on the suspected cause of the boiler explosion was available, or whether work there had been, or was ongoing, at the unit.


Sonatrach plans to use its larger, Arzew complex in Algeria to make up the loss of output of LNG, ethane, propane, butane and gasoline from Skikda, CNI was told.


Skikda’s chemicals plants were not damaged by the blasts, Sonatrach said.


The explosion at the port city of Skikda’s complex happened on Monday (19 January) evening local time. It took firefighters and emergency workers hours to bring the blaze under control.


Skikda produces 11.2bn cubic metres of LNG annually. The explosion destroyed three of the site’s six LNG storage tanks.

By: Patrick Reynolds
+44 208 652 3214

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