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Singapore charges Shell with safety lapses over Pulau Bukom refinery fire

09.04.2012  | 

The incident arose last year during maintenance work on a pipeline that started from a naphtha tank and passed through a pumphouse where products were blended. The Pulau Bukom refinery is Shell's largest.

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By GAURAV RAGHUVANSHI

SINGAPORE -- Singapore’s government has charged Royal Dutch Shell with safety lapses that led to a major fire at the Anglo-Dutch oil company's 500,000 bpd refinery in the city state last year.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower filed a charge against Shell on Aug. 31 for an offence under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for the lapses in safety, the ministry said in a statement emailed to Dow Jones on Tuesday.

The case will be heard in the Subordinate Courts on Sept. 25. The company faces a fine of up to 500,000 Singapore dollars ($401,700) for the breach if convicted, according to the statement.

The refinery, at Pulau Bukom, is Shell's biggest plant worldwide.

“We are not in a position to comment, as the matter is currently before the courts. We have extended our full cooperation to the relevant authorities. Safety is a top priority for Shell,” a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

“We regret this incident and are applying the learnings to avoid such an occurrence in the future,” the spokeswoman added.

The incident occurred in September last year when Shell was conducting maintenance work on a pipeline that started from a naphtha tank and passed through a pumphouse where petroleum products were mixed and blended.

On Sept. 28, a fire broke out at the pumphouse. It was fully extinguished after 32 hours, according to the government statement.

The fire didn't cause any serious injuries, although the pumphouse was badly damaged and the Bukom refinery had to be temporarily shut down.

The refinery was using an open-draining method to remove petroleum products from the pipeline.

The open-draining method used trays to collect naphtha flowing out of the pipeline through valves and a loosened flange joint that allowed the release of flammable vapors into the air, the ministry said.

Shell had also failed to deploy portable gas monitors that would have allowed measurements to be taken within the proximity of the open draining and would have alerted workers and safety staff to dangerous levels of flammable vapors, it added.

Dow Jones Newswires



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N.SETHURATHINAM
01.31.2013

Root Cause Analysis of the incident and the Lessons Learnt must be made available in the public domain so as to ensure such incidents do not take place anywhere else.

Willie C Benavides
09.29.2012

The SOP for draining hydrocarbon was not followed as per the company's procedure. Open draining of a volatile material in the air is like inviting a fire to occur. There must have violation/s by people in the ground and that is not acceptable. Shell has to look deeper into this incident and apply lessons learnt throughout their worldwide operations.

MOHAMED EL MASRY
09.09.2012

GAINT LIKE SHELL SHALL NEVER ADMIT THAT THEY WHERE WRONG.
YET BOTH PARTIES ARE WRONG , PROPERLY SHELL WANTS PRODUCT TO KEEP ON GOING , AND SIGAPORE GOVERENMENT WHISHES TO KEEP COST AS MINIMUM AS POSSIBLE AND AS USUALL BIG COMPANY EXPERTIES ARE NEITHER EX NOR INTERESTED IN CHANGING BAD HABITES, OR DOING SOME EFFORET TO ABSERVE WHAT IS GOING ON
I HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH SHELL BEFORE THEY ADORE TO HEAR THAT THEY ARE VERY SAFETY TOP CONCERNED COMPANY , BUT THEY DO NOT LOOK DEEP IN WHAT IS GOING ON THEY ARE VERY CAREFUL TO LOOK AS IF EVERY THING IN UNDER CONTROL AND THIS IS NOT ONLY THEIR PROBLEM IT IS THE PROBLEM OF ALL MONEY HOLDING OIL AND GAS COMPANIES.
ANY WAY I BELIEVE AS USUAL THEY SHALL GOAWAY WITH IT , EVEN WITH NO BLAME
SAFETY IS EVERY WORKER RIGHT AND DUTY , SPECIAL COMMITES SHOULD IN BUILT IN OIL PRODUCING COUNTRIES TO MAKE SURE THAT SAFETY CONCERNES ARE WELL TANKEN CARE OF YET AGAIN CORAPTION WILL BE OUR BOUNDRY AND THIS ALSO A PROBLEM THAT BEGINES FROM THE MONEY HOLDING COMPANIES ARE

olasunkanmi jimoh
09.06.2012

Thee lesson learnt to all of us that are refinners is that we should use closed drains to collect all liquid petroleum products line evacuation prior to any repair interventions to avoid exposure to air for flamability.

BOH BIN KADRI
09.06.2012

I'VE WORKED FOR SHELL FOR ALMOST 25 YRS. IN SHELL, SAFETY IS THE TOP PRIORITY. I DON'T THINK SHELL AS A WHOLE TO BE BLAME. IN BUKOM REFINERY FIRE CASE, A HUMAN ERROR IS THE ONE THAT TRIGGERED THE FIRE. BEING WORKING WITH SHELL, I AM VERY PROUD ABOUT OUR SAFETY, NOT ONLY AT WORKSITE BUT ALSO AT HOME, ON THE ROAD, AT OUR KIDS SCHOOL, AT OUR PRAYER HOUSE, DURING ANY FUNCTION OR ANYWHERE ELSE WE GO. SHELL IS STILL THE BEST. ADIOS.

ARAVAZHI
09.05.2012

Oh! It's sad news. I hope Shell will follow the safety standards and measurements in future to keep their good reputation.

renatorogerio.santos@omanmethanol.com
09.05.2012

Lesson Learned

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