Searching for the Cause of Repeated Fires at the Pertamina Refinery


Factory owned by PT Pertamina (Persero) in Dumai, Riau Province, exploded last Saturday (1/4). As a result, houses and mosques around the factory were damaged.

The explosion also resulted in nine workers in the operator’s room being hit by broken glass. PT Kilang Pertamina Internasional (KPI) Refinery Unit (RU) Dumai said it would deal with the damage and be responsible for the victims.

“PT KPI RU Dumai apologizes for this incident and we will be responsible for any losses that occur in the community,” said PT KPI RU Dumai Area Manager Communication, Relations & CSR Agustiawan in an official statement, Sunday (2/4).

Agustiawan explained that currently PT KPI RU Dumai is forming a Recovery Team which involves the local government, law enforcement, and community representatives to accelerate recovery steps, including data collection on losses in the community.

The police said that the cause of the explosion and fire that occurred at the Pertamina Refinery Unit II Dumai Refinery was temporarily suspected to be due to a technical error in one of the pump units.

Riau Police Chief Inspector General Muhammad Iqbal said that from the results of the Regulatory Incident (TKP) results, the explosion was suspected to have been caused by the release of H2 in the Suction Discharge Area pipe area which caused flash and the burning of the Hydro Cracker Unit (HCU).

“Right now it’s done shutdown And recovery plan from the Hydro Cracker Unit which caught fire in the Pertamina KPI RU II Dumai refinery area,” said Iqbal when confirmed.

Iqbal explained that currently the police are still investigating the explosion that left nine people injured. The Riau Police, he said, were also assisted by the Central Forensic Laboratory (Puslabfor) team from the National Police Headquarters to investigate the incident.

From the results of the inspection of the settlements after the incident, he confirmed that no community members were victims.

Pertamina itself did not immediately agree with the statement from the police regarding the cause of the explosion earlier. VP Corporate Communication of Pertamina Fadjar Djoko Santoso emphasized that his party was still waiting for the results of the investigation into the cause of the explosion and fire.

“That’s the initial suspicion from the police. If we wait for the overall investigation,” he said while reminding that to this day the cause of the explosion is still unknown.

The explosion at Pertamina’s oil refinery is not the first. Based on editorial records, apart from the Dumai refinery, fire incidents involving Pertamina’s oil refinery have occurred four times in the last two years.

First, the oil refinery owned by PT Kilang Pertamina in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, caught fire on May 15 2022. As a result of the incident, one contractor worker died and two others were injured.

Second, an oil refinery in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, caught fire on March 4, 2022. The oil refinery burned for about an hour before being extinguished.

Third, Tank 36 T-102 at the Pertamina Cilacap oil refinery caught fire on 13 November 2021. The fire occurred in the evening and was extinguished at 23.05 WIB, but flared up again.

The fire was completely extinguished the next day, namely November 14 at 07.45 WIB. There were no casualties in the incident.

Fourtht, a tank in the Pertamina Cilacap oil refinery area, Central Java, caught fire on June 11 2021 at 19.45 WIB. A fire broke out in one of the tanks containing benzene.

The fire that occurred in area 39 of Pertamina RU IV Cilacap was brought under control approximately one hour after the incident, which was around 20.40 WIB.

Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Energy Analyst Putra Adhiguna assessed that the explosion and fire at the Pertamina refinery could not be separated from the age and safety standards of each place to process the oil itself.

“Age and safety standards, both. But age can be an important factor,” he said.

Continued on next page…

Old Factory Facility



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