Venezuela Amuay refinery fire yet to affect polyolefins

27 August 2012 18:51  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The explosion and fire at Venezuela’s Amuay refinery appeared to have no impact on production of polyolefins, although industry sources were still reluctant to believe the government’s account of the situation, sources said on Monday.

The petrochemical plants at El Tablazo, where polyolefins are produced, are far away from the area of the gas explosion, and have their own crackers for production of ethylene and propylene, a transformer said.

Propilven reassured clients that there were would be no problems in the provision of plastic resins, the transformer said.

There were some concerns about the status of Profalca, a company that operates a propane-propylene splitter, but that plant is next to the Cardon refinery, which has not been affected by the incident.

Colombia’s Propilco, a polypropylene (PP) producer, was said to be one of he companies that receive propylene from the Profalca plant. Attempts to reach Propilco were not successful.

Since the Amuay and Cardon refineries are interconnected as part of the Paraguana Refining Complex (PRC), many market participants said they think the explosion could still affect fuel and feedstock supplies.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) production in Venezuela also was not affected by the refinery fire, sources said.

Pequiven produces PVC and VCM at the Ana Maria Campos complex in the state of Zulia, while the Amuay refinery is in the state of Falcon.

Pequiven said it was sending trained personnel to assist in emergency operations at the Amuay refinery.

Pequiven’s Ana Maria Campos complex includes production of ethane, propane, ethylene, ammonia, urea, chlorine, VCM and PVC.

The explosion was caused by a natural gas leak that lingered around due to exceptional climate conditions (calm winds in a usually windy area) and ignited on Saturday, damaging or destroying storage tanks, business and a nearby neighbourhood.

The explosion killed at least 41 people, according to local news media reports.

The fire has been confined to two tanks in the southeast corner of the refinery, local authorities said.

Additional reporting by Ron Coifman

By: George Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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