Fire hits at Shell’s German integrated refining complex

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has extinguished a fire that occurred at its Shell Deutschland Oil GMBH–operated petrochemicals plant at Wesseling, Germany, which together with the Godorf refinery near Cologne-Godorf, comprise Shell’s 325,000-b/d integrated Rheinland refinery, Germany’s largest (OGJ Online, Jan. 11, 2012; Aug. 4, 2009).

The fire, which broke out in a cracker furnace at the Wesseling olefins plant around 2 p.m. local time on May 10, was extinguished by the plant’s fire brigade just after 9 p.m., Shell said in a series of releases.

An investigation into the cause of the incident is now under way, Shell said.

The company did not disclose details regarding either the impact to processing units or the current status of operations at the refinery.

Shell recently completed a series of upgrades to improve efficiency and boost production volumes at the Wesseling plant, including modifications to furnaces, compressors, column systems, tubes, and pipes at the complex’s 2A naphtha steam cracker (OGJ Online, Mar. 17, 2015).

The revamp, which enabled the upgraded 2A steam cracker to increase production of ethylene, propylene, C4, and pygas by 15%, came as part of Shell’s late 2011 decision to increase throughput and improve feedstock flexibility at the 2A cracker following the shutdown of the plant’s 2B cracker alongside the company’s strategy to strengthen both its refining-chemicals integration and feedstock position of core manufacturing locations across the world.

During 2014, Wesseling’s 2A steam cracker, which receives advantaged feedstock and absorbs byproduct streams from the nearby Godorf site, had an ethylene production capacity of 272,000 tonnes/year, according to Shell’s latest strategy report to investors.

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