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Fifteen injured in Russian chemical plant explosion

03 March 2014

On February 26, the Stavrolen polyolefins plant at Budennovsk in Russia’s Stavropol region experienced an explosion and fire that injured 15 employees. Russian oil and chemicals group Lukoil said 15 personnel had suffered burns and other injuries and four of them were hospitalised, after a fire broke out in the gas separation section of the ethylene plant at the plant in southern Russia.

Lukoil-Neftekhim's Stavrolen plant - Photo: Lukoil
Lukoil-Neftekhim's Stavrolen plant - Photo: Lukoil

Owner-operator Lukoil-Neftekhim, a petrochemical subsidiary of Lukoil, said it has suspended production as a result of the incident. Its cause, nature and scope as well as the expected date of resumption of output would be decided by a special commission set up with state supervisory authorities.

According to European Plastics News, this is the third incident of this type at the plant in the past six years. The Stavrolen plant only fully came back on stream in September 2012, almost a year after nine employees were injured in a previous €20m blaze there in December 2011.

The cause of that incident was a gas leak in the ethylene plant. It occurred a little over two months after an industrial safety inspection by the Russian state environmental, technical and nuclear regulatory agency Rostekhnadzor.

After the last incident, Stavrolen was forced to rely on propylene feed stocks for PP production shipped from Lukoil’s Karpatneftekhim polymers plant in western Ukraine.

Previously, in 2008, the Stavrolen complex suffered a devastating fire and explosion in the PP plant which killed three workers and left three more with severe burns.

Lukoil’s Stavrolen complex remains one of Russia’s biggest petrochemical sites with 300,000 tpa high density polyethylene and 120,000 tpa PP capacities.  This year, the group is due to invest around €30m at Budyennovsk to modernise and develop Stavrolen’s existing facilities, as part of a bigger project to install a new gas processing unit to be fed by gas from the Caspian Sea. 

Lukoil Press Service  said the fire was contained within an hour and that there was no further threat to the plant or to the residents of Budennovsk or other neighbouring settlements as the incident resulted from hydrocarbons catching fire, which decomposed into water and carbon dioxide during combustion.

“We intend to initiate the incident response plan and conduct repair operations in the near future,” it said.

“A commission, led by representatives of the state supervisory authorities, will investigate the incident and assess the nature and scope of the damage, as well as a timeline for the resumption of production. The company is preparing for repair operations. Currently, the production process at the enterprise has been suspended.”

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