NiQuan Energy Ltd has said that residents of communities surrounding its gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant were "at no point at risk" after its hydrocracker unit exploded.
The company has told the public that the plant is safe despite the mishap and it will address residents' claims of property damage.
The Prime Minister opened the Pointe-a-Pierre plant on March 8.
On Wednesday around 6.30 am, its hydrocracker system failed during an attempted startup and exploded. This led to a fire that was contained by officers from the Mon Repos Fire Station.
Hours after the incident, NiQuan's vice president of corporate affairs Malcolm Wells told Newsday it was "a serious equipment failure."
He said, “We cannot turn back the clock, but we can commit to doing everything necessary to ensure that we learn from this incident and that there is no repeat of this failure.”
When Newsday visited Silk Cotton Drive, Marabella on Thursday morning, some residents said their windows had shattered and that TVs had fallen. They said everyone was traumatised and called on NiQuan to communicate properly with them. Others demanded compensation for the damage.
Asked about this on Thursday afternoon, Wells told Newsday the company is "taking steps" to engage directly with nearby residents "with a view to assess and deal with any such claim on a case-by-case basis.
"The GTL process is fundamentally safe," he stressed, "and at no point were residents at risk during the incident. However, we understand that we cannot reasonably expect people to take that assurance at face value in light of what occurred and that we need to be proactive in providing reassurance. That is what we are doing."
He said the plant's employees have been kept "fully sighted" since the incident and the company's priority is to ensure the site remains safe.
"In addition, we have also taken active steps to provide additional support to any employee who may have been (mentally/emotionally) affected by yesterday’s incident.
Some residents also told Newsday that over the past few weeks, there have been "flares" at the plant, so they were not too surprised by the explosion.
Asked about this, Wells said the plant is still in start-up mode and is being "ramped up to nameplate capacity."
The plant has a 2,400-barrel capacity and produces high-performance, low-emission energy products GTL paraffinic diesel and GTL naphtha from natural gas.
Wells said the start-up mode process involves "integrating all the equipment and dealing with snagging items which only become apparent when the plant is live.
"Each item is then addressed by the project team and the plant is ramped up and down accordingly as we optimise the process. This is a standard procedure and entirely normal for a GTL plant or any other type of process plant."