JX Nippon Reopens Mizushima Plant


After an investigation of nearly four months, Japanese petroleum giant JX Nippon has decided to reopen both refineries at its Mizushima plant in Okayama prefecture.

Hiroji Adachi, the plants executive officer, said last week that JX had resumed production at Mizushima B on Nov. 28 after provincial authorities checked the refinerys safety regulations. Adachi apologized for the safety flaws and remarked that JX remains committed to safety as a priority.

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Reopening both refineries, which have the capacity to produce more than 340,000 barrels per day, was an important goal for JX. Mizushima A has a base oil plant with a capacity of 3,500 barrels per day of API Group I. Mizushima B has a base oil plant with 4,000 b/d of Group I and 400 b/d of Group III capacity.

JX was forced to close its Mizushima B refinery last July as a result of failed safety checks and lackluster bookkeeping. A company investigation revealed that false inspection records had been filed for some liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks at the refinery, which represents 15 percent of the company’s total refining capacity.

A month after JX closed the B refinery, a destructive fire disabled the number two vacuum distillation unit at JX Nippons Mizushima A refinery, where a fire in 2011 resulted in a three month shutdown.

On Nov. 14, JX released a comprehensive report of the investigation regarding the Mizushima A refineryfire. According to it, the second vacuum distillation unit had an internal fuel leak which was ignited by the high temperature at the bottom of the air fin cooler system.

JX acknowledged that the fire caused considerable damage to the piping in the A refinery, but added it has worked to repair the piping and is moving towards resuming full production. Fire damage was significant, with JX reporting that more than 33.4 kiloliters of heavy oil was lost to leakage and more than US $425,000 in damages to equipment.

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