Indonesian police: No sabotage behind refinery explosion

Police in Indonesia have determined that the crippling refinery explosion at Balikpapan earlier this week was not the result of sabotage (OGJ Online, Aug. 8, 2000). Pertamina official F.F. Welan said the explosion occurred because one of the refinery's pipes had developed a leak.


BALIKPAPAN, EAST KALIMANTAN�Police in Indonesia have determined that the crippling refinery explosion at Balikpapan earlier this week was not the result of sabotage (OGJ Online, Aug. 8, 2000). Rather, the incident has been ruled an accident.

Superintendent Faah Sumarno, spokesman for the East Kalimantan police, said an investigation conducted by a forensic team from the national police headquarters, in cooperation with the provincial police, has established that the explosion and fire at the state-owned Pertamina refinery occurred because of a technical mistake.

"This is a pure accident...It was not the work of saboteurs," Sumarno told the Indonesian News Agency.

Pertamina official F.F. Welan said the explosion occurred because one of the refinery's pipes had developed a leak. The blast happened so fast, he said, that the control room did not have a chance to warn security officers.

The hydroskimming unit, where the explosion occurred, was commissioned in 1984. Pertamina says it checks the unit's condition every 2 years. The last assessment was made in December 1999.

The refinery reportedly has resumed operation, although at 65% of capacity. Unless Pertamina is able quickly to restore the refinery to full capacity, Indonesia's refined products shortage is likely to worsen.

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