Pertamina starts operation at Balongan Refinery after fire
Photo courtesy of Pertamina

Pertamina starts operation at Balongan Refinery after fire

Indonesia’s state-owned oil and gas company PT Pertamina announced that operations at its Balongan Refinery, located in West Java, approximately 200 kilometers east of the capital Jakarta, have returned to normal following a fire which broke out on March 29.

The Balongan Refinery, which sits on 340 hectares of land, is one of Indonesia's largest refineries and also one of its most crucial. Pertamina’s Balongan Refinery has a processing capacity of 125 thousand barrels per day which is equivalent to 12% of the total national production capacity. The Balongan refinery has a strategic role in maintaining fuel supply, especially Premium, Pertamax, and LPG, which is distributed to Jakarta, Banten, parts of West Java and its surroundings, which are the centres of business and government of Indonesia.

"The main products of Pertamina Balongan refinery such as Premium, Pertamax, Pertamax Turbo, Solar, Avtur, LPG, and Propylene, all of which have a large contribution in generating revenue for both PT Pertamina (Persero) and the state," said Corporate Secretary of Subholding Refining & Petrochemical, PT Kilang Pertamina Internasional (KPI), Ifki Sukarya.

Damage from the fire was limited to the storage area of the plant and did not affect its oil processing area. The company said that 7% of the refinery's 1.35 million kilo litres (KL) of storage capacity was affected, and that the tanks that caught fire contained 23,000 KL of gasoline.

Pertamina said it had to implement a normal shutdown of operations to minimize the impact of the fire. Nearly 950 nearby residents had to be evacuated. Pertamina said there were no fatalities, though media reports said one resident had died from a heart attack which may or may not be related to the fire. West Java police is still investigating the cause of the fire.

The start-up stage began on March 31 by reactivating the refinery's primary processing unit, the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU). The secondary processing units were then started up in stages, starting from the Residual Catalytic Cracker (RCC), which processes the residue into high-value products. Since April 7, it has operated normally. The KLBB unit (Kilang Langit Biru Balongan), which produces fuel products, has operated normally since then as well.

"With this start-up, the Balongan Refinery will start its operations and return to producing refinery products, starting with fuel production," said Sukarya.

For supply transfer, it is starting to be adjusted gradually, along with the Pertamina Balongan refinery operation. Previously, Jakarta's fuel supply was delivered from other Pertamina refineries such as the Dumai Refinery, Cilacap, Balikpapan, and the Tuban TPPI Refinery, which had to boost their production to make up for the supply gap created by the Balongan refinery shutdown. Pertamina said its current fuel supply remains sufficient now, and it does not require additional importation of petroleum products supply.