Locals take pictures or video of a fire at Pertamina's Balongan refinery in Indramayu early on Monday. (Antara Photo/Dedhez Anggara)

At Least 20 Injured and Hundreds Displaced After Pertamina's 4th Largest Refinery Catches Fire

BY :DION BISARA, FAISAL MALIKI BASKORO

MARCH 29, 2021

[Updated at 03:20 p.m. on Mar 29, 2020, to add remarks from a senior official at Pertamina about the extend of the fire damage]

Jakarta. At least people were injured, and hundreds of others had to leave their homes after Pertamina's Balangan refinery, the energy company's fourth-largest crude oil processor in Indramayu, 200 kilometers the east of Jakarta, went aflame and exploded Monday morning. 

The refinery accounts for 12 percent of Pertamina's oil and gas processing capacity, and it supplies fuel for Jakarta and the surrounding industrial area. But Pertamina said it confident the supplies from other refineries would be enough to make up for the loss due to the fire disruptions. 

For now, the first responders focus on evacuating the victims and people living in the surrounding area to prevent more life loss. 

"The provisional data shows that there are five people who suffered severe burns," Caya, the acting secretary of Indramayu's Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) on Monday.

Caya said the victims had been rushed to the nearest hospital and along with 15 others who suffered minor injuries. 

He said some of the victims happened to pass by the refinery when the fire broke out. Some others were living nearby. "Some of the victims are residents. There are also road users," he said.

Around 500 people left their homes near the refinery to take refuge in Indramayu's public building or Pertamina's facility. 

"Two hundred people are staying at a sports center owned by Pertamina and 300 others at Pendopo Indramayu," he said.

The oil refinery caught fire and exploded at 00:45 a.m. with a bang that was heard for more than five kilometers, witnesses said. 

Agus Suprijanto, senior Vice President Corporate Communication & Investor Relations Pertamina, said the fire occurred at tank T-301 that stored fuels from the refinery. The company has managed to contain the fire, he said. 

"The fire has been contained and did not spread to the surrounding area," Agus said in a statement. 

Pertamina said it did not have any information about the cause of the explosion, according to Ifki Sukarya, the corporate secretary of Pertamina International Refinery, the energy company subsidiary that operates the Balongan refinery.

"The cause of the fire is not certain, but at the time of the incident, it was raining heavily accompanied by lightning," Ifki said.

"Currently, a normal shutdown is being carried out to control the flow of oil and prevent the expansion of fires," he said. 

Pertamina advised the resident to remain calm and stay away from the fire's location, Ifki said. He said the company had erected roadblocks around the vicinity with help from the Indonesian Army (TNI).  

"Despite this incident, Pertamina ensures that the supply of oil fuels to the community is not disrupted and is currently still running normally," Ifki said.

Balongan is the second-latest refineries Pertamina builds in Indonesia. Monday's fire was the first major damage the refinery experienced since its operation in 1994.

The refinery has a capacity to process 125 million barrels per stream day — or mbsd, a measure of how much oil product the refinery can make during an undisrupted 24-hour operation. 

Balongan produces subsidized fuel under the Premium brand and non-subsidized, high-octane fuels known as Pertamax and Pertamax Plus. The refinery also produces diesel fuel, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), and propylene. 

Pertamina said on its website that Balongan "has a strategic value in maintaining the stability of fuel supply to DKI Jakarta, Banten, parts of West Java and its surroundings."

 

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