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A fire at Europe’s largest refinery was brought under control early Sunday. Shell officials are temporarily shutting down the facility.
Photo: AFP/Björn Remmerswaal

Oil giant Shell said it was temporarily shutting down Europe’s biggest refinery after a pre-dawn fire broke out at a power station on the huge facility Sunday.

Flames billowed into the sky over the port of Rotterdam after the blaze erupted at a high-voltage power station at the Shell Pernis refinery.

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Firefighters brought the fire under control by around 6 a.m.

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“Shell is in the process of shutting down all the units at the site,” a Shell spokesman said. The units are all interconnected and “several of them are out of service due to the power outage caused by the fire,” he said.

It takes “hours, or even several days” each time operations end up closed down or restarted, he said.

Shell did not confirm media reports 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.

A spokesman for the refinery said Sunday after the fire had been brought under control, engineers flared off stocks of gas as part of the shutdown.

The flareoff is a recognized safety procedure and was “completely under control,” he said.

Shell could not immediately disclose the extent of the damage, nor when the refinery would return to full capacity.

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