Reliance says refinery operating at full capacity

Thursday, 26 October 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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Ahmedabad: A day after a major fire at the Jamnagar refinery of Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries, company officials said operations were running at full capacity in all but one unit that was damaged.

"Only the hydrotreating unit number two has been closed down. Otherwise all the other units are running at 100 percent capacity," a company official said. "We don't see any shortage of supplies," he added.

The official said one contract worker had died in the fire and another employee - who had sustained serious injuries and 60 percent burns - was shifted to a hospital in Mumbai for treatment.

The fire broke out at the unit at around 11 a.m. and was contained in two hours. A faulty valve at the unit - one of the 40 facilities at the plant - was stated as the reason for the fire.

The hydrotreating unit that caught fire was processing around 15 percent of the company's capacity of 33 million tonnes of crude oil per annum, officials said.

The refinery is located about 300 km south of the Gujarat's commercial capital Ahmedabad.

The petroleum ministry had feared that cooking gas supplies in the country might be affected because of the fire and the state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOL) was asked to import the commodity immediately.

Even though Reliance had given an assurance that there would be no shortfall in supplies, the government did not want to take chances since the company produces a third of India's domestic output of cooking gas, officials said.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had been approached for cooking gas since Qatar could not assure additional supplies. A tender for five shipments of cooking gas of 13,000 tonnes each will be floated soon.

Meanwhile, Reliance has set up two expert panels on the fire - one to probe what caused the accident at the hydrotreating unit and the other to advise it on how to assess the damage and restart operations.

Meanwhile, Reliance shares fell 1.59 percent closing at 1,175.20 Thursday - the first day its shares were traded in the bourses after the accident, since the markets were closed Wednesday for Eid-ul-Fitr.

The refinery - the world's third largest at a single location - has a primary refining capacity of 660,000 barrels of crude per day and accounts for close to 25 percent of India's production of fuel products such as diesel and gasoline.

Source: IANS
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