25 de noviembre de 2014 / 13:48 / en 3 años

UPDATE 4-Chile's Aconcagua refinery halted in part until December

(Recasts with update on operations, adds details on restart, production)

By Antonio De la Jara

SANTIAGO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Operations at Aconcagua oil refinery in central Chile will be partially halted until next month, after a fire broke out on Tuesday morning at a key distillation unit, state oil firm ENAP said.

The fire was brought under control within about 15 minutes, but parts of the refinery were closed as a precaution, ENAP said, adding that Aconcagua should be running at full capacity again by the first half of December.

Aconcagua has a refining capacity of around 104,000 barrels per day and produces the majority of fuel consumed in the capital Santiago.

“For reasons that are being investigated, at 9:52 (1252 GMT) a pump caught fire at the Topping II plant at ENAP’s Aconcagua refinery,” ENAP said in a statement.

“The emergency was under control by 10:05. The Topping II plant has been stopped, along with another four units which have been halted preventatively,” it said.

Topping II is a distillation plant that separates crude into its constituent products. It is the smaller of Aconcagua’s two distillation units, with a capacity to process around 40,000 barrels per day, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The company said it was evaluating the damage and that fuel supply in Chile would not be affected. Aconcagua was not running at full capacity at the time of the fire as it was undergoing a scheduled maintenance, ENAP said.

Two contract workers had suffered slight burns and have been discharged from hospital, it added.

Chile has two major oil refineries, Aconcagua and Bio-Bio, both run by ENAP. According to figures on ENAP’s website, their total refining capacity is around 220,000 barrels per day and they can supply over 80 percent of Chile’s requirements, as well as exporting a small amount to neighboring Peru.

Chile imports nearly all the fuel it consumes, most of which is purchased, processed and sold to retailers by ENAP.

Writing by Rosalba O'Brien, Editing by W Simon and Gunna Dickson

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