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 Cat Cracker Explodes at Niquan Plant in Pointe-a-Pierre

Clouds of smoke after explosion

Cat Cracker Explodes at Niquan Plant in Pointe-a-Pierre

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RESIDENTS of Marabella, Gasparillo, San Fernando and Couva were jolted by the sound of an explosion around 6.40 am on Wednesday as the catalytic cracker at the Niquan Plant exploded.

Thick clouds of smoke billowed from the recently opened Niquan GTL plant located in the compound of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Emergency first responders, fire officers and the police were on at the scene minutes after the incident.


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The Southern Main Road from the Pointe-a-Pierre Plaza to Marabella was blocked off by the police who urged caution in the vicinity of the refinery.

A voice note circulating on social media, suggested that the explosion could be as a result of “a build up of wax” inside the pipelines leading to a hydrocracking unit in the plant.

There were no casualties or injuries as an employee noted, “the night shift workers, were already leaving the plant.”

The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries in a release stated that the explosion was as a result of a component failure resulting in a blowout.

It stated, “There are no reports of casualties nor injuries at this time.”

The release stated, “The situation was quickly brought under control by members of the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services from the Mon Repos Fire Station, along with Niquan ground managers and officials of the plant who are presently at the location.”

A statement from the Ministry of National Security stated that the fire resulted from an explosion at the Niquan Plant at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery compound.

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It noted it has been contained and there was no active danger at present to life or property in the immediate vicinity.

It stated, “No injuries or damage to State assets have been reported from the incident where the catalytic cracker at the Niquan Plant exploded around 6.40 am on Wednesday April 7, 2021.”

The release advised caution when approaching the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and environs and asked the public to seek alternative routes and avoid venturing into that area as first responders were on the scene and vehicular traffic has been halted.

It stated, “All traffic has been diverted to TECU Building and Flower Pot Beach. Police officers are on the scene directing the flow of traffic. The Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway from the Claxton Bay flyover to the Tarouba flyover has also been identified as an alternative route for the motoring public.”

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The Niquan GTL plan was opened in March by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

It is the first commercial-scale Gas to Liquid plant in the Western Hemisphere and the first dedicated small scaled GTL plant in the world.

The plant capacity is over 2,600 barrels per day and its operation include, the process of natural gas to clean, high performance, low emission GTL Energy products.

It is one of five commercial GTL plants currently operating in the world.

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