Fire-hit Balongan refinery may return to normal this week

Operations at Indonesia’s state oil company PT Pertamina’s 125,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Balongan may return to normal this week, following a fire in some parts of the refinery, a company director told parliament.

The fire broke out just after midnight last Monday, forcing Pertamina to shut the plant and evacuate around 950 nearby residents. Ten people are being treated in hospital from the effects of the fire.

“For primary processing, it is already operating normally, and a start-up for secondary processing is being carried out,” Djoko Priyono, the director of Pertamina’s refinery arm, Pertamina Kilang Internasional, said.

“It is hoped that by the end of this week, we can return to normal,” he said.

The company had began the restart process at the refinery on March 31, two days after the fire broke out, a Pertamina spokesman, Ifki Sukarya, told Reuters earlier on Monday.

The company said after the fire last week that only 7% of the refinery’s 1.35 million kilolitres (KL) of storage capacity was affected.

It said the tanks that caught fire had been only holding around 23,000 KL of gasoline and national fuel stocks also remained secure.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, Pertamina CEO, Nicke Widyawati told parliament at the same hearing.

Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Martin Petty

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