Egypt's Nasr Petroleum Company is in the midst of restarting its 146,300 barrels-per-day refinery in Suez after a fire last Saturday, an official source from the company said on Thursday.
"The refinery remains shut. We are in the process of preparing to restart it," he said but declined to be named.
"We hope that we will be able to restart the refinery within the next 24 hours."
According to a second official, the fire started at a warehouse at the refinery, which is operated by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation's (EGPC) subsidiary El Nasr Petroleum since 1913.
The accident has prompted EGPC to delay two naphtha shipments to be lifted in May and June from Suez port, two officials from EGPC said.
These cargoes were originally scheduled for second-half April lifting from Suez.
A third April naphtha cargo that was due to be shipped out last weekend when the fire broke was slightly delayed.
Diesel and gasoline imports, however, will not be affected and the company does not yet have any additional spot requirements, the EGPC officials added.
It is due to issue a term tender to seek oil products for July-December next month, and could probably seek higher volumes, a trader said.
The delay in naphtha shipments is likely to have an impact on the Asian market, a North Asian trader said.
"Suez exports about 60,000 to 90,000 tonnes of naphtha to Asia, so there will be an impact if we lose those cargoes for April," the trader said. "The loss of cargoes is coming when May supplies are tight due to limited European cargoes coming in next month."
Traders added that the tightly supplied naphtha market is likely to ease only from June.
The refinery has three crude distillation units (CDUs) as well as an accompanying asphalt production unit and power plant.