Nobody was injured in the blaze, which halted production at the refinery on Sukhumvit Soi 64 yesterday. Waewta Charoensuk, 42, a resident of Ua Amornsuk condominium near the refinery, said she heard a loud bang at about 7am when she was about to send her children to school. She opened the window of her room on the ninth floor and saw flames and smoke coming from an oil pipe at the refinery.
Bunlua Ua-kaew, 72, said she was about to prepare clothes to sell at a nearby market when she heard people shouting that the fire was heading to the condo. She fled to a nearby temple without taking any of her belongings from her room on the second floor. She said condo residents were told by the refinery about the incident one hour after the blaze was put out. The fire erupted at a hydrocracker unit that upgrades fuel oil to diesel. The blaze was thought to be caused by a hydrogen leak but was brought under control within 30 minutes, with nobody hurt, the company said. The entire refinery was ordered to halt operations for safety reasons.
Bangchak president Anusorn Sangnimnuan said the accident has prompted the company to bring forward a maintenance shutdown planned for Feb 24 and would result in losses of about one million baht a day to its first-quarter revenue. “The fire caused us to shut down a little earlier than expected,” Mr Anusorn said. “It will affect first-quarter revenue, but revenue may recover in the second quarter, depending on the severity of the damage.”
Bangchak’s hydrocracker contributes about 25,000 barrels per day of its refinery capacity of 120,000 barrels. The unit was opened in 2008 as part of a broader 7 billion baht upgrade to allow the company to produce higher-value products. A similar accident occurred in 2009.
Mr Anusorn said the 35-day shutdown would not affect export commitments but would cause the company to lose about 30 million baht. The majority state-owned refiner has commitments to export about 40,000 tonnes of fuel oil per month, but fuel oil is produced by other units, which would be closed for inspection for only one or two days, he said. Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul said the accident would not affect oil distribution of Bangchak as the company has reserves of 800 million litres of finished products, enough to supply the market for two months. Bangchak shares fell 1.6% yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand yesterday, closing at 17.9 baht in trade worth 148.2 million baht.
Report by : Bangkok Post