Vertical light in sky seen from various parts of S'pore likely caused by Johor refinery flaring

Not Scarlet Witch coming.

Zhangxin Zheng | June 26, 2022, 09:51 AM

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An orange bar of light, which appeared in the sky and was visible from many parts of Singapore on Jun. 25 evening, left many perplexed.

Mysterious light bar in the sky

Those who managed to see the vertical light shared their photos and videos in the CloudSpotting & SkySpotting Singapore Facebook group.

The strange phenomenon was described as "stationary and flickering" by one of the members of the group.

Photo by Ian Wui, taken in the west.

Photo by Fas, taken from Jurong Lake Gardens.

Photo by May Tan.

Video via Rui, from Serangoon Gardens.

Photo from Rui En, at Marina Bay area.

What exactly is it?

The Facebook group members speculated about the origin and composition of this vertical light.

Some pointed out that the light bar is likely to have originated from an oil refinery in Johor, Malaysia.

While the oil refinery in Pasir Gudang is the usual suspect that comes to our minds, this vertical light is likely caused by the flaring of a refinery complex in Pengerang, which has reportedly restarted recently.

The light from the flare was mirrored by the ice crystals in the atmosphere, producing the vertical light.

An orange glow in the sky and bright flames from the refinery were sighted by residents in eastern Singapore on Saturday evening, around the time the vertical light was spotted.

Photo by Ng Lay Hua, taken from Bedok.

Photo by Christopher Chen.

Photo by Louis Lum.

Photo by Josephine Yeo.

Flaring is used to remove excess hydrocarbons at refineries for safety reasons.

The flaring process releases water and carbon dioxide as the end products into the atmosphere.

It is usually conducted at the start-up or shut-down phase of the facilities.

Here's a photo that shows the vertical light formed directly above the flaring refinery:

Photo by Thomas Quah.

Refinery complex restarted after two years of closure

According to Reuters, the refinery complex in Pengerang, called the Pengerang Refining and Petrochemical (PRefChem), was restarted in May 2022 after its operations were ceased in 2020.

PRefChem is a joint venture between two national oil companies, Petronas and Saudi Aramco.

According to its website, it is the largest refinery complex in Malaysia.

A fire and explosion in March 2020, which resulted in five deaths, led to the temporary closure of the refinery complex.

The Reuters report also said the refinery was processing existing crude oil from storage tanks before processing supplies from Saudi Aramco in the future.

Top photo collage via Facebook group "CloudSpotting & SkySpotting Singapore".