Indonesia blaze refinery back 'in days'

·2-min read

Indonesian state oil company Pertamina hopes to restore operations at its Balongan oil refinery in West Java in four or five days, as firefighters work to extinguish a massive blaze that broke out overnight, injuring five people.

Pertamina shut the plant and evacuated about 950 nearby residents, with videos shared on social media showing huge flames engulfing the 125,000-barrels-per-day facility, while a large explosion could be heard.

Chief executive Nicke Widyawati told reporters the fire was concentrated in the refinery's storage tanks and there had been no impact on the processing plant.

"The main equipment at the refinery is not affected," she said.

"We hope the plant can be operational again soon after we put out the fire so there are no disruptions to supply."

Operations can be restored in four to five days, Pertamina director Mulyono told the media briefing.

The fire started just after midnight during bad weather, although the cause is currently unknown.

Five people were being treated in hospital for burns, a company spokesman said.

Pertamina's Mulyono said the company had "secure" levels of fuels stocks to supply Indonesia, including for the upcoming Islamic holidays of Eid Al-Fitr.

Balongan, one of Pertamina's biggest refineries, processes crude oil from the Duri and Minas fields in Riau province and supplies fuel to Jakarta and the western regions of Java island.

Nicke said efforts to put out the blaze were continuing, but the fire had been contained to a small area.

Television footage earlier showed a massive column of black smoke rising from the site, which is about 225km east of the capital Jakarta.

A nearby resident told Metro TV she was awoken by a pungent smell of oil fumes and saw lightning strikes in the sky.

"We smelled a strong fuel scent first, so strong that my nose hurt, while we heard lightning strikes," said Susi, who gave only one name

"Suddenly the sky was orange," she said.