Explosion at Indonesia refinery worsens fuel shortage

An explosion at Indonesia's 240,000 b/d Balikpapan refinery has halted production at the refinery, further tightening fuel supplies in the country. The blast occurred early Monday morning, and the subsequent fire was extinguished after about an hour, reports OPEC News Agency. Repairs and an investigation are under way.

Aug 8th, 2000


JAKARTA´┐ŻAn explosion at Indonesia's 240,000 b/d Balikpapan refinery has halted production at the refinery, further tightening fuel supplies in the country.

The blast occurred early Monday morning, and the subsequent fire was extinguished after about an hour, reports OPEC News Agency. Repairs and an investigation are under way.

In placing blame for this latest incident in a string of problems affecting Indonesia's refining industry, Mines and Energy Minister Lt.-Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Pertamina Pres. Baihaki Hakim have pointed to the possibility of sabotage aimed at disrupting the country's fuel supply.

The refinery explosion came just days after a Pertamina storage facility in the northern Sumatra port of Belawan was damaged. Susilo said the Indonesian police and military have been asked to investigate the incident, and security has been increased at other refineries and storage sites in the country.

The blast damaged the refinery's catalytic reformer and LPG facilities. Two workers were described as "slightly injured."

Baihaki said he expects the refinery to resume operation in about 3 days, although it will take longer to repair the Belawan facilities, which include a damaged jetty and pipeline. More trucks would be sent to northern Sumatra's Aceh province to distribute much needed fuel, he added.

Indonesia has been short of fuel supplies for more than a month now, as repairs at the Balongan refinery in East Java had cut output (OGJ Online, July 25, 2000). The country has been importing refined products from Malaysia, Singapore, and China, but this latest outage is likely to worsen the problem.

The possibility of terrorist attacks is apparently being taken quite seriously by authorities. Police Chief Bambang Sudarisman said two platoons of military and police personnel are guarding the 348,000 b/d Cilacap refinery in central Java.

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