Fire at Indonesia’s Balongan oil refinery prompts evacuations

The fire, which seriously injured five people and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents, has been localised and could be extinguished today, Pertamina’s president said.

The fire at the Pertamina Balongan Refinery in Indramayu, West Java, Indonesia lit up the night sky [File: AP Photo]

Indonesian firecrews worked to extinguish a massive blaze at state-owned PT Pertamina’s Balongan oil refinery, with the company aiming to resume processing soon.

The fire, which prompted an evacuation of nearby residents and forced the company to halt operations at the refinery, has been localized and may be put out tonight, Pertamina President Director Nicke Widyawati said at a televised briefing from the location. The cause of the blaze that affected four storage tanks at the complex is still unknown, she said.

A car passes by as smoke billows from a fire at the state-owned Pertamina Balongan Refinery in Indramayu, Indonesia on Monday [File: AP Photo]

Videos shared on social media platforms showed flames and billowing smoke against the night sky. As many as 912 people living in a village near the plant in West Java were evacuated, local authorities said. Five people were seriously injured, some suffered minor injuries while several were reported missing, according to the authorities.

The fire broke out at 12:45 a.m. local time Monday, Mulyono, the company’s director for logistics, supply chain and infrastructure, said at the same event. Pertamina will rely on supplies from other refineries such as Cilacap and Trans-Pacific Petrochemical Indotama to meet fuel demand from terminals at Cikampek in West Java and Plumpang in Jakarta that are supplied by the refinery, he added.

The company expects the situation at Balongan to return to normal in the next four to five days, said Mulyono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name. He didn’t elaborate.

The Balongan refinery began operations in 1994, state news agency Antara reported. It has a nameplate refining capacity of about 125,000 barrels a day, with its output geared toward clean fuels such as gasoline. The complex has 72 tanks with total capacity of 1.35 million kiloliters, Widyawati said.

Nationwide gasoline stockpiles stood at 10.5 million barrels, enough to cover 27-28 days of consumption, Mulyono said. There are 8.8 million barrels of diesel, or 20 days worth of consumption, and 3.2 million barrels of jet fuel stored, he added.

Source: Bloomberg