28 August 2012 13:17 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--The fire that has been raging at Venezuela’s Amuay oil refinery since an explosion on 25 August is close to being extinguished, with a Friday restart date mooted for the facility, members of the government said on Tuesday.
Fires at two of the three storage tanks affected are understood to have been extinguished, with firefighters working to combat the blaze at the third.
Writing on Twitter in the early hours of 28 August, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said that fires had been extinguished at one of the tanks, with work progressing at the second. Venezuelan energy minister Rafael Ramirez later told Reuters that the blaze at the second tank has been completely extinguished.
“With the help of God, we will succeed,” said Chavez.
The explosion was caused by a gas leak in a storage depot, which created a cloud that then ignited. The resulting explosion claimed the lives of 48 people and injured at least 150, according to media reports.
Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA had been pushing for the 645,000 bbl/day refinery to reopen by Wednesday, but the spread of the fire from two storage tanks to a third pushed back that deadline.
The explosion and fire do not appear to have had any impact on the production of polyolefins, which are produced away from the area of the explosion and have their own crackers for ethylene and propylene production, according to sources familiar with the facility.
Ramirez has criticised accusations that the explosion was caused by a lack of maintenance, telling Venezuelan state television that $4.8bn (€3.8bn) had been spent on maintaining the Paraguana Refining Complex – comprising the Amuay and Cardon plants – over the past five years.
($1 = €0.80)
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