Engen fire: refinery to reopen in January

2008-11-24 00:00

The Engen oil refinery will be up and running by mid-January after a massive fire caused by “a rapid, catastrophic mechanical failure” shut it down two weeks ago.

Oil refinery general manager Willem Oosthuizen said yesterday that the fire in the refinery’s crude oil unit during the early hours of November 13 had caused an estimated R50 million worth of damage. Shutting down the refinery meant a R6 million a day loss.

He said that “root cause investigations” into the mechanical failure that resulted in an explosion followed by a large blaze would be completed in about a week.

The refinery is also awaiting the analysis of air samples taken on the refinery perimeter and surrounding areas during and after the fire. When it is received from a laboratory in Italy, a toxicologist will assess whether the fire had any impact on the health of neighbouring communities.

Oosthuizen said the unit that was badly damaged feeds oil into the refinery for processing, making the closure of the refinery after the fire unavoidable. He said the refinery would be able to restart within in January as soon as crude unit damage had been repaired, the refurbished pumps re-installed and the system tested.

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