Petroleum Tank Farm Fire at Indian Oil Corporation’s Surat facility

Industrial Accidents

 Jan 07, 2013, Surat, India– A major fire was reported yesterday at one of Indian Oil Corporation’s  tank farm at Surat, in the state of Gujarat in India. Apparently there have been two fatalities and some missing persons as well. The fire has been brought into control as per the latest reports. It raged for nearly 21 hours after erupting.

The Oil tank farm is located actually at Hazira, an industrial township very close to Surat. Hazira has several large installations such as Power and Steel plants, Oil terminals and petrochemical  plants. Indian Oil Corporation has a storage tank farm at Hazira with about 9 tanks, out of which one tank containing about 5000 Kiloliters of petrol caught fire. The  major worry of the authorities was to contain the fire to that one tank and not allow it to spread to other tanks in the vicinity. They were continuously spraying water to cool the area.

This fire is a however a small one, compared to another earlier one that broke out at Indian Oil’s Jaipur tank farm in October 2009. In that incident the fire raged for several days (11 to be precise) , led to large number of fatalities and injuries and provoked calls for better safety in oil depots in India. In fact based on the lessons learnt from the Jaipur incident, the management of Indian Oil Corporation has initiated a massive safety audit and revamp of all its petroleum and associated liquids storage terminals and depots. However this fire occurred unfortunately, before  the modernization project could be complete.

Modernized oil tank farms have  Fire and Gas Monitoring and Suppression systems, Safety Instrumented Systems and modern emergency control systems in place to prevent fires and accidents. It is not known whether this particular tank farm had such systems in place. Globally such facilities adhere to standards such as IEC 61511 laid down by the International Electrotechnical Commission, to ensure that reliable automation and control/safety instrumented systems are in place in process facilities that have a high risk of fire and/or explosion.

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