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Europe’s Biggest Oil Refinery Shut Down After Fire

Pernis refinery

Shell’s Pernis refinery in Rotterdam, the biggest in Europe, has been partially shut down after a short circuit caused a major fire on Sunday. Deutsche Welle quoted a Shell spokesman as saying there were no casualties. The company is currently assessing the damage to establish when the refinery will be brought back online.

Reuters quoted a company statement to traders from Sunday as saying all loadings of fuels from the 404,000-bpd Pernis facility have been suspended immediately and they were likely to remain suspended today as well. The shutdown of the refinery should push up the prices of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel in northwestern Europe.

The Shell spokesperson told AFP the company was now shutting down all units of the refinery, as they are all interconnected and several are out of operation because of the power outage caused by the fire. He suggested the shutdown could continue for days, saying that it usually takes “hours, or even several days” to bring things back to normal after a shutdown.

This is the latest in a string of refinery problems that have boosted refining margins in Europe to their highest since November 2015. Total’s 240,000-bpd refinery in Leuna, Germany, was shut down for longer than initially planned earlier this year and this pushed up demand for diesel in the country. In Greece, last week Hellenic Petroleum declared force majeure on its 100,000-bpd Elefsina refinery, suspending diesel exports.

Last week, Shell announced a triple increase in net earnings attributable to shareholders for the second quarter of the year, to US$3.6 billion. The results were attributed to higher oil prices that pushed up oil product prices up as well, and to cost efficiency improvements. Downstream earnings improved by 39 percent to US$2.5 billion, but the bulk of this improvement came from chemicals production rather than fuels.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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