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Last of PDVSA operational crackers a Cardon unit of CRP refinery breaks down



By Argus

Petroleumworld 01 15 2019

The catalytic cracker (FCC) at state-owned PdV's 305,000 b/d Cardón refinery stopped operating yesterday on the failure of a steam unit, the energy ministry said.

The breakdown of the FCC leaves PdV without a single operational cracker in its domestic refineries, further limiting gasoline supply that is already scarce in many parts of the country.

A senior federation of oil unions (FUTPV) official at Cardón confirmed the FCC was shut down yesterday.

Cardón and the nearby 635,000 b/d Amuay refinery comprise the 940,000 b/d CRP refining complex in Falcón state, which accounts for over 72pc of PdV's domestic refining nameplate capacity of 1.3mn b/d. Most of that capacity is not operational.

Amuay's FCC has been off line since late 2018 because of shortages of domestic and imported crude and components.

The CRP was operating at roughly 25pc of its combined 940,000 b/d nameplate, or roughly 235,000 b/d, as of 11 January, the union official said.

Cardón was processing 80,000 b/d immediately before its cracker was forced to shut down yesterday. The refinery´s operational processing today is somewhere below 80,000 b/d, the union official said.

The loss of PdV's catalytic cracking capacity, combined with frequent breakdowns of Amuay´s flexicoker and inoperative distillation units at both of the CRP's refineries likely will aggravate Venezuela's local motor fuel shortage this month, the ministry acknowledged.

Military authorities in the oil-producing western state of Zulia have imposed fuel rationing since 4 January, limiting pump sales to about 8 USG (30 liters) per vehicle.

Fuel shortages have worsened since fourth quarter 2017 as PdV's downstream problems have been compounded by the breakdown of its tanker truck fleet.

A senior energy ministry official said the government may have to ration fuel nationwide until PdV repairs its refineries or finds the financial resources to import more gasoline.

PdV declined to comment.


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