By GAURAV RAGHUVANSHI
SINGAPORE -- Singapores 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
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
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
We regret this incident and are applying the learnings
to avoid such an occurrence in the future, the
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
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
Dow Jones Newswires