Total Begins Investigation into Fatal Antwerp Explosion

French oil major Total told Rigzone Wednesday that it has begun an internal investigation into the explosion at its Antwerp refinery Tuesday afternoon that killed two contractors.

A Total spokesperson confirmed that the local Belgian authorities are involved in the investigation but that "it is too early" to provide answers about why the explosion occurred.

The company also confirmed that the families of the two contractors have been informed.

The explosion occurred at 3pm Tuesday (Belgian time) while maintenance was being performed on a steam generation system in a gasoline production unit.

Soon after the incident some of the units at the refinery were shut down and its emergency plan activated. The company reported late Tuesday that the situation was under control and that there had been no fire and no release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.

In August Total was involved in another loss-of-life incident within its European operation when a Super Puma carrying two crew and 16 passengers from one of its rigs crashed into the North Sea, killing four passengers.

The incident also comes eight months after Total restarted production at its Elgin-Franklin field in the North Sea, where a major gas leak caused a shutdown in March 2012.

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at jmainwaring@rigzone.com

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