Five dead in fire at Petronas-Aramco refining complex in Malaysia

A fire killed five people at a refining and petrochemicals complex in southern Malaysia owned by Petronas and Saudi Aramco, authorities said on Monday.

It was the second fire in less than a year at the $27 billion Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor.

Petronas [PETR.UL] and Saudi Aramco each have a 50% stake in the PRefChem joint venture, which owns and operates the refinery and some petrochemical plants at PIC.

The Johor State fire and rescue department said the fire and a blast occurred on Sunday night at the diesel hydro treater unit, which was removing sulphur from raw diesel using hydrogen gas.

Other than the fatalities, one other person has suffered burns, the fire department said, adding that the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Petronas directed queries to the joint venture company Pengerang Refining and Petrochemical (PRefChem), which has not responded to a Reuters request for comment.

State news agency Bernama cited PRefChem as confirming the fire and saying “the situation is under control”.

In April 2019, an explosion and fire occurred at the plant’s atmospheric residue desulphurisation unit (ARDS), a unit that removes sulphur from fuel oil, which is then used to produce gasoline in a residue fluid catalytic cracker.

There were no casualties in the April fire, and Petronas said commercial operations at the refinery would start on time by end-2019.

The ARDS has been scheduled for operation by mid-2020, and full commercial operations for PRefChem was targeted for the second half of 2020.

The refinery, which will process around 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil once fully operational, is expected to sell fuel to customers in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia.

The PIC also includes a petrochemical complex with annual production capacity of 3.3 million tonnes.

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