South Africa’s second-largest crude oil refinery remains closed down after towering flames erupted Friday morning at the site in Durban, local media report.
At about 7:10 a.m. GMT, an enormous fireball rose from the center of the 120,000 barrels per day refinery. Flames and black smoke continued, rising to the height of surrounding refinery towers, until firefighters extinguished the fire at 8:45 a.m.
Authorities report that seven people were treated for smoke inhalation and transported to local hospitals. The refinery owners, Engen SA, stated that all refinery personnel were accounted for following an evacuation.
“Engen’s emergency response team and eThekwini emergency services were immediately mobilized to contain the incident,” a statement post on the Engen Facebook account reports.
The refinery remained shut down after the fire to allow a thorough investigation, local media reports.
Engen told Reuters that it is assessing its overall bulk fuels supply and implementing immediate steps to better manage the remaining inventory.
South Africa’s available fuel supplies have already been under strain this year. Bloomberg News reports that Petro SA’s 45,000 barrels per day refinery is expected to run out of natural feedstock next month and Glencore Plc’s Cape Town refinery has been shut down since February.
An explosion in July rocked the 100,000 barrels per day Ashton Energy refinery in Cape Town, the third largest in the country. South Africa, which imports almost one-third of its fuel supply, has six refineries, four using crude oil and two synthetic fuel as feedstock.
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