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Indeni temporarily shutdown during the week after fire swept
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Saturday, 27 Nov 2010
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Indeni Petroleum Refinery of Zambia was temporarily shutdown during the week after a fire swept into the plant caused by a faulty unit, barely days after resuming operations after 45 day routine shutdown.

The fire was caused by a pipe that ruptured on the periphery of the refinery plant around 04:00 hours on November 24 and the refinery plant was immediately shut down as a precautionary measure. The operations later resumed late in the afternoon.

Mr Mwila Nkonge spokesperson of Indeni declined to give details on the matter referring all comments to energy minister, Mr Kenneth Konga who he said had been briefed by management about the incident.

Mr Konga said that the fire outbreak at the country’s sole 24,000 barrel per day producing oil refinery and that the fire erupted at the flare of the plant. The inferno started after the gas that escaped from a leaking valve fell on the flare and ignited into a fire.

He said that I can confirm that there was fire at the flare, and there was no extensive damage. The plant has not been affected, and production will continue. There was little damage caused to the flare. A flare is a periphery of a plant where a build up of gasses is destroyed through burning, which is accumulated as a result of production of fuels at the refinery.

According to Mr Konga workers at the plant carried out an assessment on November 24 before resuming production later in the afternoon and that the plant will resume normal production after everything has been checked.

Earlier Mr Konga told reporters and lawmakers in Lusaka that about USD 9 million has been set aside for the maintenance of the refinery. Government plans to soon start the construction of 24 million litter's strategic Oil reserve in Lusaka to establish strategic reserves in various parts of the country including Mpika, Solwezi and Mongu.

Mr Martin Malama police commanding officer of Copperbelt regional confirmed that the incident adding that the Ndola City Council fire brigade put out the fire. He said that we received reports that there was fire at the refinery in the early morning on Wednesday and we rushed there. We found the fire had already been put out by the district fire brigade.

Sources at the Ministry of Energy said that there was fire outside the main plant and the refinery was shut as a precautionary measure. At some point, some product is suspected to have entered the blow down system which takes gases to the flare and this resulted into a fire and was sent down the guard system at the flare and when this discharged from the system it ignited a portion around the piping at the flare. But the ensuing fire was contained and extinguished by employees at the scene.

They said that the fire resulted from pressure caused by excess gases which forced one of the safety valves to open and burst into flames. The fire was extinguished by the Indeni fire brigade. They added that the flames were brief and described them as normal as operations of the refinery were still in the start up process after the 45 day shutdown for maintenance.

(Filed by Mr Kapembwa Sinkamba SteelGuru Correspondent Zambia)

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