Investigation launched into Engen refinery inferno

Firefighters work to keep the fire out at Engen Oil Refinery on December 04, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. According to media reports, residents from as far as Manor Gardens, Glenwood and Pinetown were woken up by a massive explosion just after 7am. (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

An explosion took place at the refinery in Wentworth shortly after 07:00 on Friday.

All refinery process units have been shut down at Engen’s Wentworth refinery, while the company investigates the cause of a massive fire which broke out on Friday morning.

The fire did not cause any injuries, the company said in a statement on Saturday.

An explosion took place at the refinery in Wentworth shortly after 07:00 on Friday.

At the time, KwaZulu-Natal emergency services spokesperson Robert McKenzie told News24 that fire and smoke could be seen billowing from the refinery and that a block of flats on Beach Road, opposite the refinery, had also caught fire.

On Friday, emergency services personnel had said one person had been injured and that another six had been treated for smoke inhalation.

“With regards to the fire incident at the Engen refinery on Friday… Engen wishes to confirm that no injuries were recorded. All refinery personnel have been accounted for,” says Engen spokesperson Gavin Smith.

The fire was extinguished at 08:45, says Smith.

“All refinery process units have been safely shut down in order to ensure that the plant remains completely safe while investigation into the root cause of the incident is underway,” he said.

“Engen will continue to extend its full cooperation with authorities and government agencies in concluding the investigation into the incident.”

He added that consumers need not expect any fuel shortages.

“Engen is currently assessing its overall bulk fuels supply and demand position and implementing immediate mitigations to manage inventory and product supply requirements. In these efforts, the needs of our customers remain our priority and are assured that the company is working hard to ensure secure supply of core petroleum products to the market.”

In November 2008, the refinery was shut for about four months following an explosion. In 2007, a fire caused by a lightning strike to a fuel storage tank burnt for three days and cost the refinery R210 million.

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