Fire halts part of Europe's largest oil refinery

A fire on Sunday in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam forced the closure of Europe's largest refinery run by Anglo-Dutch company Shell.

The fire at Europe's largest refinery was brought under control early Sunday
The fire at Europe's largest refinery was brought under control early Sunday (ANP/AFP)

A fire on Sunday in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam forced the closure of Europe's largest refinery run by Anglo-Dutch company Shell.

Firefighters brought the blaze, which sent flames billowing into the sky, under control by around 6:00 am (0400 GMT).

"The fire started last night in a high-voltage power station at the Shell Pernis refinery in Rotterdam," a Shell spokesman told AFP.

"Several units are stopped and for security reasons we are burning off the gas that remained inside them," the spokesman added.

Shell has not confirmed local media reports that the fire may have been caused by a short circuit. Instead the company said it would "wait to know more about the circumstances of the incident."

According to the regional security authority, there were no toxic materials in the smoke but there may be soot.

Shell could not immediately disclose the extent of the damage, nor when the refinery would be operating at full power.

"The shutting down and restarting the units can take several hours, or even a day for some," the spokesman said.