Out-sourced engineers at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) have begun processes to assess the plant, following an explosion at the refinery’s furnace on Thursday, January 26, 2017. The process began with the draining of crude oil deposits from pipes connecting the new furnace. This is to pave the way for technical experts from Vega Engineering in Italy to assess the damage on the facility to determine the way forward. The furnace, which was installed at a cost of €5 million, was commissioned on December 2, 2016 to increase TOR’s crude oil heating capacity as part of the plant’s expansion to increase production capacity to 65,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd). The new furnace replaced an old one which broke down in 2013. Prior to that, the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) could process 28,000 bodp. The Manging Director of TOR, Mr Isaac Osei, told the Daily Graphic in a telephone interview that TOR engineers were assisting the Italian team to conduct the assessment. “Once all the pipes are drained, the engineers would have to go into the furnace and access if there’s any substantial damage and also try to see what might have caused the explosion,” Mr Osei explained. Emergency shutdown Officials of TOR last Thursday carried out an emergency shutdown of the facility to avert the outbreak of fire after the furnace exploded while crude oil production was underway. The explosion has distorted the shape of the furnace. The Daily Graphic has gathered that a nine-member committee which was set up last Thursday to conduct preliminary investigations into the incident was yet to submit its report to management. The furnace was said to have gone off by itself while production was underway; efforts made to restart it caused the explosion. The paper also gathered that storage constraints for finished products had necessitated the need for a shutdown of other units of TOR. The Residual Crude Catalytic Cracking (RFCC) unit of the plant was also shut down last week following a challenge from its regenerating unit. The regenerating unit treats spent catalysts generated by the refinery for hydro residual desulphurisation processes. Turnaround maintenance A subsequent repair or replacement of the furnace is likely to affect TOR’s planned turnaround maintenance scheduled for February this year to replace some critical parts of the processing units.
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