Fire Erupts at TonenGenerals Base Oil Refinery


A large fire broke out Sunday in the base oil plant at TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K.s refinery in Arida city, Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan. No injuries were reported and the blaze had been minimized as of yesterday evening, but the company said it was still working to determine the extent of damage and length of disruption for production.

TonenGeneral said it is working to keep customers supplied using materials from other facilities operated by it and other companies. Supply of products have been adjusted to source from the companys other plants and sources to avoid inconvenience to customers, said a company press release. Monday morning shipping operations were postponed.The fire started at 10:30 p.m. in the plants No. 2 propane dewaxing unit and No. 2 nmethyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) extractionapparatus. The cause of the fire had not been identified at the time of publication.

The other facilities are still under operation but at a lower production rate, the company added.

On Jan 18, another fire broke out during the cleaning of an oil tank at the refinery. The two incidents are considered unrelated. TonenGenerals Wakayama refinery has capacity to process 132,000 barrels per day of crude oil and is an integrated production center for petroleum products, including gasoline, lubricants, aromatics and specialties such as aviation and automotive test fuels. The refinery includes at API Group I base oil plant with capacity of 370,000 metric tons per year. Also onsite is a finished lubricant blending plant.

Approximately 600 residents in the surrounding area of Arida city were evacuated on Sunday, but the company said that the order for evacuation was lifted early Monday as the fire was reduced in size and officials deemed there was no risk of explosion.

TonenGeneral was once ExxonMobils business in Japan, but the American energy giant sold its last stake in the company in 2012. TonenGeneral still blends lubricants for ExxonMobil at the Wakayama plant and markets them under ExxonMobil brands. The base oils produced at the Wakayama refinery are mostly exported to other Asian markets through ExxonMobil distribution channels.

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