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13 Nov 2008 17:46
Engen will import refined oil and oil products after a fire destroyed the main processing unit at its crude oil refinery in Durban, the country’s second largest, the company said on Thursday.
Engen said the refinery, which has a capacity of 135 000 barrels per day, would be shut for months of repairs after fire broke out shortly after midnight at the plant and burned for three hours before being put out.
The normal production capacity at the refinery was 130 000 bpd, Tania Landsberg, Engen’s spokesperson, said.
Landsberg said the fire destroyed about 50 000 litres of crude and the shutdown would force it to import refined oil and oil products for the period of the closure.
South Africa does not have enough refining capacity and relies partly on imports of products to meet fast-growing demand.
Engen is the country’s biggest supplier of oil and related products, with a market share of about 26%, ahead of a BP and Royal Dutch Shell venture. BP and Shell run the Sapref oil refinery, South Africa’s biggest.
Landsberg said the Engen refinery’s main crude unit had undergone scheduled maintenance in October.
Investigations continued into the cause of the fire and the company was evaluating how long repairs would take, she added.
“It looks like the shutdown will last for quite some time.
We are not sure yet exactly how long it will last, it may be months rather than weeks,” said Landsberg.
“The main crude unit has been affected and the damage by the fire has been quite significant,” she added.
“The fire comes just after a turnaround, which was completed two weeks ago on the main crude unit,” Landsberg said.
She said the company was evaluating its contingency plan, which includes importing refined products.
Engen is 80% owned by Malaysia’s state firm Petronas and the rest is held by SA’s black-owned Worldwide African Investments Holdings.
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