June 1, 2019 / 12:25 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Cameroon state oil refinery declares force majeure after blast

(Adds information on role of refinery)

DOUALA, June 1 (Reuters) - Cameroon’s state oil refinery declared force majeure on Saturday, after a storage tank exploded overnight, causing a fire that shut down output at its main refinery in Limbe but caused no deaths.

A letter to its partners seen by Reuters said the fire had “caused a production stoppage at all of our units for a period to be determined.”

Cameroon’s Sonara refinery, which is almost entirely state owned apart from a 4% stake held by Total, has a capacity of 2.1 million tonnes of crude a year. It serves the whole country, so any delay in getting it back up and running has the potential to cause severe fuel shortages.

It is also a major supplier to the region, including Nigeria, Togo and Ghana, with some products also being exported to the United States and Europe, according to its website.

A Sonara spokesman declined to comment.

On Twitter, the company wrote that “there were no deaths nor injured,” in the blast.

A project has been under way for nearly a decade to try to boost its capacity to 3.5 million tonnes, but Sonara has struggled to raise the needed finance. (Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu, Writing by Tim Cocks, Editing by William Maclean and Stephen Powell)

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