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Explosion at Petronas oil and gas complex in Malaysia injures two

12 April 2019

Two staff members were injured in an explosion and fire at the new RAPID oil and gas refinery in the Petronas Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Johor, southern Malaysia, on April 12. An emergency response team contained the fire within 30 minutes. The casualties are believed to be security guards and were treated at the plant's medical facility.

Pengerang Integrated Complex - Image: Wikimedia CC
Pengerang Integrated Complex - Image: Wikimedia CC

Petronas said the situation was rapidly brought under control and all relevant authorities had been informed. The state oil and gas group said it would provide additional information after the incident investigation was concluded.

Local media said that the explosion was probably triggered by a leaking gas tank and that outside the plant, a number of houses in Kampung Lepau near Pengerang  were damaged.

Comments on social media suggested that the blast caused tremors that could be felt as far as 50km away. Video footage circulating online showed a large fire and thick smoke rising up to the sky from the facility.

Reuters news agency reported that the PIC refinery was testing its facilities ahead of planned commercial operations later this year. It said the complex, anchored by RAPID, or Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development, was Petronas’ biggest domestic investment in a 50-50 joint-venture with Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Saudi Aramco.

Petronas is currently testing the systems at Rapid, running crude oil through its fuel processing units and labyrinth of pipes and producing large exhaust gas fires from its flare tower, Reuters said.

The refinery, which will process around 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil once fully operational, is expected to come online later this year, and sell fuel to customers in Malaysia and across South-east Asia.

The explosion and fire occurred at the plant’s atmospheric residue desulphurisation unit (ARDS), which is in its commissioning stage, Petronas said in an updated statement.

The ARDS unit removes sulphur from fuel oil which is thenpassed through a residue fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) - a secondary refiningunit that upgrades residual fuels into higher quality products such asgasoline. The ARDS unit is located close to the refinery’s crude distillationunits.

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