A Durban oil refinery has been shut down after a fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Engen spokesperson Herb Payne said the fire had broken out in the
refinery’s crude unit – the facility that feeds crude oil into the
refinery’s processing units.

He said the blaze broke out shortly after midnight and had been extinguished by 03.10 by the refinery’s own fire fighting team.

He said: “It is not possible to pinpoint the cause of the fire or the
cost of the damage at this stage. It is also not yet possible to say
what impact this will have on fuel supplies or when the refinery will
be back in operation.”

The refinery, located in Durban’s southern Wentworth suburb, supplies the country with almost 20 per cent of its refined fuel.

He said investigations were underway to determine the cause of the fire. Mopping up operations were also underway.

Air samples that were taken would be sent to laboratories for testing.

Payne said that effluent used in fighting the blaze had been contained and would be disposed of safely.

In November last year R120m worth of petrol and equipment “went up in
smoke” at the refinery after a 45 metre high petrol tank containing
7.5m litres of petrol was struck by lightning.

That blaze continued for nearly three days.