PDVSA’s Amuay Refinery Knocked Offline

(Argus, 20.Sep.2019) — A fire overnight disrupted limited operations at the 635,000 b/d Amuay oil refinery, the only one of Venezuelan state-owned PdV’s domestic crude-processing plants that has been functioning in recent months.

The fire broke out shortly after lightning strikes that were blamed for causing a blackout on the Paraguana peninsula, site of Amuay and the nearby 305,000 b/d Cardon refinery that comprise the 940,000 b/d CRP refining complex.

PdV said the fire was quickly suppressed by emergency crews but did not disclose how the fire started or what units were affected.

Amuay was processing just under 130,000 b/d of crude or 20pc of its nameplate capacity before the power went out. Cardon has been out of service since July, a PdV official at the CRP said.

The CRP complex accounts for just over 72pc of PdV’s 1.3mn b/d domestic refining capacity that includes the 140,000 b/d El Palito refinery which has been out of service since the end of 2017, and the 190,000 b/d Puerto La Cruz refinery that is also down, a senior oil union official at the CRP said.

Crude processing at Amuay will resume quickly, the official added.

The blackout shut the 317MW Genevapca gas-fired thermal generation unit that supplies electricity to the CRP, according to two workers at Amuay.

Genevapca is integrated with state-owned utility Corpoelec’s electricity grid on the peninsula, making the CRP vulnerable to blackouts during grid disruptions.

Corpoelec started restoring electricity supply on Paraguana early this morning.

PdV’s loss of nearly all of its operational refining capacity stems from a shortage of feedstock, maintenance, spare parts, stable power supply and skilled labor. Acute fuel shortages are commonplace across the Opec country. The disputed government of President Nicolas Maduro blames US sanctions.

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