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The oil refinery exploded and the fire was concentrated in the tank farm! Storage tank safety matters!

The oil refinery exploded and the fire was concentrated in the tank farm! Storage tank safety matters!

Issue Time:2021-04-27

The oil refinery exploded and the fire was concentrated in the tank farm! Storage tank safety matters!


In the early morning of March 29,2021, a fire and explosion occurred at the Balongan refinery of Indonesia's national oil and gas group. The fire and explosion were fierce.

Overview of the accident: In the early morning of March 29,2021, a fire and explosion occurred at the Balongan refinery of Indonesia's national oil and gas group. So far, 5 people have been seriously injured, 15 people have been slightly injured, and 950 people have been transferred, another 3 people are still in search and rescue.
Company profile: Balongan Refinery is one of the largest oil refineries under the Indonesian National Oil and Gas Group. It is located in West Java, Indonesia. It processes crude oil from the Duri and Minas oil fields in Riau province and sends it to Jakarta and Java. Fuel is supplied to the western part of the island. The refinery has a processing capacity of 125,000 barrels per day, and its main products include gasoline, kerosene, industrial diesel, propylene, liquefied petroleum gas, fuel oil, etc. According to the Indonesian National Oil and Gas Group, after midnight of the Balongan refinery accident on the 29th, the fire was mainly concentrated in the tank farm and did not affect the production facilities.

At present, the oil refinery has stopped production and the fire continues to burn. The company is taking measures such as cooling related storage tanks and controlling the flow and diffusion of oil products to prevent the accident from continuing to expand. The Indonesian National Oil and Gas Group stated that the cause of the accident is not yet known, but the accident occurred during severe weather when it was raining and accompanied by lightning. A nearby person said that the sky turned orange when he first smelled a strong fuel odor, and then heard a powerful lightning strike. It is reported that the cause of the accident may be a fire and explosion accident caused by lightning strikes on the storage tank.

At present, many companies are negligent in management of storage and transportation tank farms, and there are obvious weaknesses, making them an important safety shortcoming in the dangerous goods industry. As a major source of danger, once an accident occurs, it will bring huge losses. Therefore, the entire industry urgently needs to improve the overall safety management level.

The roof of an external floating roof tank rests directly on the surface

of the stored liquid, leaving little vapour space and consequently leading to a much lower risk of rim space fire. Proper lightning protection is critical for fire prevention –the floating roof tank roof

and the outer shell must be bonded continuously to prevent arcing.

Fire incidents are reported in tank farms every year, and James I. Chang and Cheng-Chung Lin found that 80 of 242 tank accidents in their study was caused by lightning.

Floating roof tanks are particularly susceptible to the direct and indirect

impacts of lightning. A lightning strike will cause current to flow through the shell and roof of the floating roof tank. When these

lightning currents arc through the tank top, they will ignite any flammable vapours. To reduce the risk of arcing, a reliable,continuous, low-impedance and low-resistance connection between the tank

shell and the roof is a must, regardless of the condition of the shell and the roof plate.

There are a number of options, but the Retractable Grounding Reel is the best option. A retractable design ensures the shortest possible distance between the tank wall and the floating plate. With proper

installation, RGRs installed in a floating roof tank will always provide the lowest impedance paths to discharge lightning current safely.

An RGR is designed to be easily retrofitted onto any existing floating roof tank. It comes with the advantages of simple installation, easy inspection, and low maintenance costs.