India's 60,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Numaligarh refinery will close next week after a planned maintenance was brought forward due to a fire at one of its secondary units over the weekend, a company official said on Thursday.
The refinery in Assam was originally due to shut on April 18 for the planned maintenance but was later delayed by two weeks. The original maintenance schedule will now be followed because of the fire, said Madhuchanda Adhikari Choudhury, the refinery's corporate communications manager.
The shutdown of the refinery is expected to last about 20 days.
The refinery is 61.65% owned by Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), while the government of Assam and Oil India own the rest.
BPCL has tendered to buy at least 70,000 tonnes of diesel following the fire, to re-direct diesel stocks within India.
Numaligarh refinery itself does not import oil products, but supplies diesel to the northern parts of India, a trader said.
It is yet unclear if BPCL plans to seek more diesel in the coming weeks and imports will depend on the situation, a source familiar with the matter said.
A fire broke out at a 22,000 bpd hydrocracker unit at the Numaligarh refinery in northeast India on April 7 at 6.35 pm (1305 GMT). It was put out within half an hour, Choudhury said.
The hydrocracker unit is currently shut, with the other units operating as normal, she added.
A three-member panel has been set up to investigate the cause of the fire and is expected to submit a report in 15 days.
"I don't wish to comment before the report is out but prima facie it doesn't appear to be sabotage ... it appears to be a technical fault," Choudhury said.
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