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Two Dead in Total Refinery Explosion in Belgium

An explosion at a refinery in Antwerp, Belgium operated by France’s Total SA on 19 November has killed two subcontractors.
The explosion occurred in a steam system of a gas-producing unit during maintenance operations at the 338,000-barrel-per-day refinery, according to a statement from Total.

The refinery was evacuated and partially shut down, and Total claims that no hydrocarbons were released into the atmosphere as a result. According to Total, there was no ensuing fire following the explosion and only steam has been released into the atmosphere.

"As a consequence of the explosion, a part of the installations are stopped, and the emergency plan of the refinery has been activated," Total said.

The identities of the two subcontractors killed in the explosion have not been released, while a third person earlier reported missing has now been found.  

The port in Antwerp remains open to shipping traffic despite the incident.

The Total refinery is among Europe’s largest, with an annual capacity of 17 million metric tons of crude oil and analysts do not expect the shutdown to have a significant impact on the market or European supplies.

Total is investing $1.35 billion in the Antwerp refinery to boost diesel-making capacity and cut costs, according to Reuters.

Shares in Total were down 0.93% by 1618 GMT (around two hours after the explosion), but this drop is in line with a 1.1% decline in the French CAC 40 blue-chip index, the news agency noted.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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