Fire hits at LyondellBasell’s Berre petrochemical complex

An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire and subsequent explosions that occurred on July 14 at LyondellBasell’s Berre petrochemical complex on the edge of Berre l’Etang in southern France, about 30 km from Marseille.

The incident, which took place around 3:00 a.m. local time at two storage tanks containing hydrocarbons similar to gasoline, was brought under control by the company’s internal incident response team and local authorities by 12:00 p.m., with no injuries reported, LyondellBasell said.

The company, which confirmed it is cooperating in an investigation led by external authorities, did not disclose details regarding the specific contents of the storage tanks or the incident’s impact to production at the complex.

The Berre complex, which currently houses subsidiary Societe du Craqueur de l’Aubette’s  450,000-tonne/year ethylene steam cracker, as well as polyethylene and polypropylene units, is the site of LyondellBasell’s shuttered 105,000-b/d Berre refinery (OGJ Online, Apr. 17, 2014; June 7, 2011).

One of the largest petrochemical complexes in the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region, the Berre complex also includes chemical units and logistical installations such as port facilities, pipelines, storage and distribution terminals, as well as operations of several other chemical companies, according to LyondellBasell’s web site.

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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