Energy department hits panic button after explosion at Durban refinery

An explosion caused a massive fire at the Engen refinery, south of Durban, on December 4 2020.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

SA will conduct an urgent assessment of petroleum products supply, the department of mineral resources & energy said on Saturday after the country’s second-largest crude oil refinery shut down after a fire and explosion.

The 120,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Engen refinery in Durban, majority-owned by Malaysia’s Petronas, ceased operations as investigations started into the cause of the fire on Friday.

Engen said it was taking measures to ensure security of supply.

The SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) warned in May that the country was facing a diesel shortage due to a spike in demand as restrictions on movement eased.

SA is a net importer of crude oil and petroleum products, with the local market consuming 11.14 million litres of petrol and 12.53 million litres of diesel in 2018, according to Sapia.

In July, the country’s third-biggest crude refinery, Astron Energy’s 100,000 bpd plant in Cape Town, was hit by an explosion that killed two people and injured several others.

The plant remains out of commission.


WATCH | Massive explosion rocks refinery south of Durban