SINGAPORE: Shell Eastern Petroleum was fined $80,000 on Monday for safety lapses that caused a fire at Shell’s Pulau Bukom oil refinery in September last year.
The oil giant was found guilty of one count under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
On 28 September 2011, a fire broke out at a pump house at Shell’s oil refinery, and spread rapidly with multiple explosions.
The Ministry of Manpower’s investigations revealed that the fire was caused by lapses such as an accumulation of flammable vapours and static charges.
Shell used an open draining method during a process called de—oiling, which is used in pipeline maintenance.
This caused flammable vapours to be released into the air, which posed the risk of ignition.
The Ministry added that Shell did not deploy portable gas monitors, which would have alerted staff to dangerous levels of flammable gases.
The fire was fully extinguished the next day after 32 hours of fire—fighting.
Although there were no serious injuries, the pump house was badly damaged and the Bukom refinery had to be temporarily shut down.
In mitigation, Shell, which is represented by WongPartnership, said that it has since "worked closely with the authorities to implement enhanced safety systems", to prevent future incidences.
For failing to ensure the safety of its processes and the premises itself, Shell could be fined up to $500,000 if convicted under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
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