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Seven injured after massive explosion at South African oil refinery in Durban

AT least seven workers were injured and damage expected to run into millions of rands incurred, after a massive explosion rocked South Africa’s second-largest crude oil refinery in Durban today.

Emergency personnel rushed to the scene and workers at the refinery were ordered off the premises as firefighters battled to control the blaze.

Residents in the suburbs near the refinery said they heard loud explosions and saw flames and smoke. A Reuters photographer saw several fire engines spraying foam onto the affected part of the refinery, which is operated by African energy company Engen.

Ambulances, metropolitan police and national police were on the scene.

An Engen spokesman said the company would issue a statement later. Engen is majority owned by Malaysia’s Petronas.

According to Engen’s website, the Durban plant has a crude refining capacity of 120,000 barrels per day (bpd).

It was not immediately clear whether there had been any impact on the refinery’s production.

This is the second explosion in 15 years. In 2005, there was an explosion which damaged houses in the nearby Merebank suburb.

Africa’s most industrialised economy has six refineries, four using crude oil and two synthetic fuel as feedstock. It is a net importer of petroleum products.

The country’s third-biggest crude oil refinery, a 100,000 bpd facility operated by Astron Energy in Cape Town, was also rocked by an explosion earlier this year. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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By The African Mirror