A fire at Royal Dutch Shell’s half-a-million barrel per day Singapore plant has intensified.
"The fire at the manufacturing facility on Pulau Bukom is still on-going. The fire involves petroleum products from pipes in the tank farm at the manufacturing facility," a Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said. A dark cloud of smoke could be seen over mainland Singapore and the Jurong Island oil hub, about five hours after the fire started at the refinery at 05:15 GMT.
"There is a fire and it grew significantly, but I am not aware of an explosion," said Lee Tzu Yang, chairman for Shell Companies in Singapore said. "My understanding is that there are no people injured." The company declined to comment on what impact the fire was having on operations at the plant, which accounts for more than a third of the island nation's total refining capacity.
Singapore is the world's biggest market for fuel oil and as Asia's hub for crude and product trading, any disruption may have an impact regional prices out of proportion to the capacity taken offline.
Refinery sources said the fire occurred where finished oil products are transferred from the final production unit into storage tanks by being pumped through pipelines.
"There are a lot of pipelines in this area. And there are residues of flammable oil trapped in them. The fire got worse because it spread into the pipes, and that's what caused the explosions," said the refinery source.
The sources said that the damage was quite extensive as a result of the second fire, which was more intense than the first, and it would take some time before the area is able to resume operations.