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Albanian oil refinery explosion

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

An explosion at an Albanian oil refinery has fatally wounded one person and injured several others.

The 40 year old worker, Shkelqim Muca, died after the explosion at the Ballsh oil refinery in southern Albania.

The explosion occurred while 11 personnel were in the hydro-cleaning sector, where the blast has been said to emanate from. There have been conflicting details on what initially triggered the incident, though the blame has mainly been attributed to a fault in the hydrogen unit, claiming a piece of faulty turbomachinery was operated incorrectly and due for replacement.

"From what I have seen and the information that I got, it had to do with an explosion of a barrel in the hydrogen sector," Albania's Minister of Energy and Industry, Damian Gjiknuri, said on Friday.

According to the Daily Mail, 'the Energy Ministry said some of the equipment had not been operated correctly, as the hydrogen pressure was three times the normal level and a security valve did not function'.

The one million tpy refinery, currently owned by an offshore company registered in the Virgin Islands, resumed operations earlier this month after a visit from current Prime Minister Edi Rama, who claimed at the time that problems with the facility were over.

The news comes as a further blow to those living and working with the Ballsh refinery, after the last two years of financial difficulties, worker’s protests and business disputes regarding the controversial privatisation of 85% of its assets in 2008.

As of the afternoon of Friday 11 November, The Ionian Refining and Trading Company has said the refinery was back to normal operating conditions.

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