Shell continues to shut down Singapore refinery after fire put out

30 September 2011 11:40  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Shell is still in the process of shutting down its refinery on Bukom Island in Singapore after finally putting out a fire late on Thursday that had burned for more than one-and-a-half days, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.

“We have started a progressive shut down on the rest of the refinery units with the exception of utilities as an added safety precaution,” she said.

“The neighbouring units in the vicinity of the fire are shut down as a precaution,” the spokeswoman added.

Earlier, Shell said it was in the process of shutting down the entire 500,000 bbl/day refinery and might also close nearby petrochemical units in an attempt to control the fire that started at around 13:15 Singapore time (05:15 GMT) on 28 September.

The refinery on Bukom is Shell's largest in the world in terms of crude distillation capacity.

The shutdown process at the refinery site has been initiated and could take two days to be completed, Martijn van Koten, vice president for Shell’s manufacturing operations, told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday.

A nearby ethylene cracker complex could also be shut in order to contain the fire, the company said, adding that a hydrocracker near the pump room site where the fire has been contained in have been shut as a precautionary measure.

The Bukom site houses a mixed-feed cracker, with an 800,000 tonne/year ethylene capacity. The cracker has a 155,000 tonne/year butadiene (BD) extraction unit.

The cracker is still running normally on Friday, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Shell's group I base oils unit that has a 400,000 tonne/year capacity at the site is running and is unlikely to be shuttered because the fire has been put out, said a company source.

Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, said that it had not declared force majeure on any products from the Bukom manufacturing site.

“Efforts are now in place to further secure the site of the fire to allow investigations to commence safely,” the company said in an e-mailed statement at 17:24 Singapore time on Friday.

“Firefighting personnel from the Singapore Civil Defence Force [SCDF] and Shell remain on standby on Bukom,” it added.

The SCDF said in a statement: "The fire at the manufacturing plant on Pulau Bukom was extinguished at 21:18 on 29 September 2011."

Additional reporting by Peh Soo Hwee and Yow Pei Lin

For more on Shell visit ICIS company intelligence

By: Nurluqman Suratman

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