06/18/2014

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Explosion at Shell's plant in Moerdijk will cause force majeure

Television footage showed flames and smoke pouring from the plant in Moerdijk, south of Rotterdam. The cause of the blast, heard more than 30 km away from the site, remains under investigation. Fortunately, the explosion happened at night and during a maintenance shut down. Only two people were injured, suffering minor burns. The explosion and resulting fire occurred in a reactor of the SMPO-2 installation, which produces styrene monomer and propylene oxide, according to a series of releases from Shell Nederland Chemie BV on 4 June 2014. While the SMPO-2 installation will remain off-line during the course of the investigation, other units at the Moerdijk continue to operate normally, Shell said. There are two SMPO plants at the site, SMPO 1 is owned by Shell Netherland Chemie and has a capacity of 450 kt (SM) and 210 kt (PO). The second plant, operated by Ellba, the joint venture between BASF and Shell Chemicals, had a capacity of 550 kt (SM) and 250 kt (PO). Sources at Shell Chemicals stated that the entire plant will have to be rebuilt, which is likely to result in supply shortages for the polyurethane and other industries.  

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