Two killed, seven injured in explosion at Glencore-owned Cape Town oil refinery

Glencore Cape Town refinery

TWO people died and seven others were injured in an explosion and fire at an oil refinery in South Africa. The facility is owned by Glencore, said Bloomberg News.

Two of the injured are currently in hospital receiving treatment, said Astron Energy, the company in which Glencore bought a 75% stake last year.

The Milnerton refinery in Cape Town where the accident occurred, was previously owned by a South African unit of Chevron Corporation.

“The incident which occurred just after 4am has been contained and the plant is now stable and all work has been stopped ,” said Astron in a statement.

“City of Cape Town fire services and emergency services remain at the scene. There is no danger to surrounding communities,” it said.

There was no immediate threat to fuel supplies because of the incident.

Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security in Cape Town where the refinery is situated, said there had been “a massive explosion” that rattled windows and roofs. Bosman was speaking to CapeTalk radio.

This is a terrible tragedy,” said Astron Energy CEO Jonathan Molapo.

“Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected. Our priority now is to support them, and our colleagues, and to continue to ensure that the plant is completely safe. We will conduct a full investigation of the incident,” he said.

“All steps are being taken by Astron Energy to support the families, friends and colleagues of the two individuals who tragically lost their lives and those who were injured in the incident,” the company said.

An annual maintenance shutdown had been underway at the 100,000 barrel-a-day refinery, which was expected to restart this month, according to the South African Petroleum Industry Association.

The plant has experienced challenges since the acquisition, including a pay dispute in March and an annual maintenance shutdown that was extended after South African introduced a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19, said Bloomberg.

The event comes amid a bad few weeks for Glencore which said on June 19 that Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney-General had launched a criminal investigation into the mining and commodities trading company.

The Swiss-headquartered company said in an announcement that the investigation would study the failure to have organisational measures in place to prevent alleged corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo.