Fire shutters Shell’s Pernis refinery

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has shut down refining operations at subsidiary Shell Nederland Raffinaderij BV’s 404,000-b/d Pernis refinery and integrated petrochemical production site in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, following a weekend power outage that resulted in an explosion and subsequent fire at the plant.

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This story was corrected Aug. 1 to specify the furnace delivered to Pernis was built by Accede Impianti Italia SRL and not Mammoet Europe BV as previously reported by Shell.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has shut down refining operations at subsidiary Shell Nederland Raffinaderij BV’s 404,000-b/d Pernis refinery and integrated petrochemical production site in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, following a weekend power outage that resulted in an explosion and subsequent fire at the plant.

At about 10:30 p.m. local time on July 29, a power failure occurred in a high-voltage power station at the industrial site, sparking an explosion and ensuing fire that burned until about 5:52 a.m. on July 30, according to a series of releases from Rijnmondveilig.nl, the official emergency alert service for the Rotterdam-Rijnmond area in the province of South Holland.

While some units immediately were shuttered in the wake of the incident, the operator decided to undertake the safe and controlled shutdown of most units at the refinery beginning about midday on July 30 after evaluating impacts of the power outage and resulting loss of electricity supply, said Shell and DCMR Milieudienst Rijnmond—the joint environmental protection agency for South Holland province—in separate releases.

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No injuries were reported following the event, but unit closures have led to increased flaring at the refinery, the operator confirmed.

Shell has yet to disclose further information about the incident, including details regarding any possible impacts to unit equipment or a timeline for when it will resume operations at the site.

Ongoing project

The July 29 explosion and fire comes just a day after Shell Nederland announced delivery of a major piece of equipment for the new solvent deasphalting (SDA) unit now under construction at the Pernis refinery (OGJ Online, Dec. 8, 2015).

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The operator has received a 30 m-high furnace—built by Accede Impianti Italia SRL of Fiumicino, Italy, at Mammoet Europe BV’s Huisman yard in Schiedam, the Netherlands—which is to be followed in by delivery of the last two distillation columns for the SDA project sometime in August, Shell said in a July 28 release.

Approved by the company in late 2015, the new SDA unit will be equipped with KBR Inc.’s proprietary residuum oil supercritical extraction (ROSE) technology to remove heavier fractions from and upgrade a larger portion of the refinery’s crude feedstock into lighter, high-grade products (OGJ Online, Jan. 26, 2016).

The SDA unit remains on schedule for startup in 2018, according to Shell.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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