Sharjah Fire Sidelines Elco


A United Arab Emirates lubricant supplier suffered major damage in a fire that temporarily closed a busy port Friday. News reports said the blaze appeared to have been concentrated on Emirates Lube Oil Co. facility at Port Khalid in Sharjah and that the companys storage facility was gutted.

Three people suffered minor burns and were released after hospital treatment, according to articles published by several local and regional news organizations. The port – the nations largest – reopened Saturday, but it did not appear that Elco would resume operations anytime soon.

The company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Elco, a subsidiary of publicly held holding company Gulf General Investment Co. (GGICO), claims to operate the largest lube blending plant among countries bordering the Persian Gulf – a facility with capacity to make 240,000 metric tons per year. That facility is located in the emirate of Sharjah, but not at Port Khalid, where the company operated a warehouse and storage depot.

News reports offered conflicting theories about where the fire began – with some saying it started on a manufacturing site adjacent to Elcos storage facility, others pegging the origin on Elcos property. There seemed to be consensus, though, that the fire began around 11:20 p.m. Friday and that it was fueld by oil products stored by Elco.

All the tugboats available at the port were being used to spray water on smoldering oil tanks and oil-storage areas close to flames, Ministry of Interior Undersecretary Lt. Gen. Saif Al-Shaafar was quoted by Middle East Africa Financial Network. Two large oil reservoirs and hundreds of barrels of oil products caught fire.

Nine of 13 berths at the port were said to have been damaged, but all were back in operation over the weekend.

A Monday article in the local Khaleej Times quoted an unidentified Elco official as saying the companys facility sustained damages valued at more than 300 million dirham (U.S. $81.7 million).

Elco sells automotive and industrial lubricants under the NationalLube brand and claims to be one of the regions leading lubricant suppliers.

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