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Venezuela's energy crisis: PDVSA's CRP refinery center
partially halted


CARACAS, May 13, 2011

A power fault hit Venezuela's main refinery center on Thursday, stopping the 310,000 barrel-per-day Cardon facility and partially halting the 645,000-bpd Amuay installation, state oil company PDVSA said. It was the second partial stoppage in a week at Amuay, the OPEC nation's biggest refinery, which came back online days ago after electrical faults paralyzed a catalytic cracker and most operations there on May 6..

An oil trader who deals with PDVSA estimated it would take at least a week to resume full operations at the refineries. "A fault in the 115 Kva transmission line known as Lagoven II which carries energy from Cardon refinery to Amuay refinery caused the stoppage of two turbogenerators ... affecting various processes at the center," PDVSA said in a statement.

Exports from South America's biggest crude producer have declined in recent years, in part because PDVSA's refinery network has suffered repeated power faults, accidents and planned stoppages for maintenance. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters PDVSA hoped to have both refineries restarted by the end of the week. He said the installations had inventories to last 15 days. PDVSA said in its statement that fuel supplies to the local and international markets were guaranteed.

Ramirez said the Genevapca electrical plant that supplies the refineries and surrounding areas was being restarted. Amuay and Cardon are part of the Paraguana Refining Center (CRP), one of the biggest oil refinery complexes in the world. "We're monitoring the situation, but it is still an emergency," said one worker at Amuay who asked not to be named. "Everything lost power, from the administrative building to the docks."

The loading and unloading of about six tankers at the CRP docks was continuing, he said, but with minimal staff because PDVSA moved most workers out of the area as a safety measure. A source at PDVSA said a small fire broke out when the power cut hit, but that it was immediately brought under control.

The CRP is in Venezuela's western Falcon state, which despite having several thermoelectric power plants has been one of the regions hardest hit by recent power outages.

Story by Marianna Parraga from Reuters. Additional reporting by Eyanir Chinea in Caracas and Sailu Urribarri in Punto Fijo; Writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Carol Bishopric.

Reuters/ Thu May 12, 2011 11:44pm GMt


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