Shell Faces Fines for 2011 Refinery Fire

Following the largest refinery fire in Singapore's history, the oil giant has received $80,000 in fines.

Shell received an $80,000 fine on Oct. 29 in connection with a fire at one of the company's refineries in September 2011. The 32-hour fire at the Pulau Bukom, Singapore refinery occurred while employees were draining a pipeline using a method that caused flammable gases to accumulate in the air.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released a statement detailing the factors leading to the country's largest refinery fire since 1998. "MOM's Occupational Safety and Health Division's (OSHD) investigations showed that the fire started in the course of the open de-oiling of naphtha (a highly flammable petroleum product) from a pipeline that ran through a pump house at the refinery," according to the statement. "The investigations determined that Shell had not ensured the safety of the open system of de-oiling of naphtha and its process."

MOM also cited three factors that led to Shell's fire: a lack of portable gas monitors, a plastic tray (a non-conductive container) as a receptacle for the naphtha, and the naphtha flowed out of two open valves, which caused the buildup of flammable vapor.

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