PdV Pins Gasoline Hopes On CRP Complex

(Argus, 6.Oct.2020) — Venezuelan state-owned PdV is focusing on repairs to its 940,000 b/d CRP refining complex to address a severe gasoline shortage that has been temporarily alleviated by Iranian imports.

The 305,000 b/d Cardon refinery, which together with the nearby 635,000 b/d Amuay refinery makes up the CRP, is currently producing about 30,000 b/d of 80-82 RON high-sulfur gasoline, after a 86,000 b/d fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) was restarted on 2 October.

One distillation unit at Cardon, CD-1, is currently in service. At Amuay, the CD-4 distillation is operating. According to CRP officials, two additional distillation units — one at each refinery — are expected to restart by the end of October.

Raising the CRP’s gasoline output to 100,000 b/d “requires sufficient operational distillation capacity to process a combined 300,000 b/d of 23-25°API crude from at least four distillation units,” a CRP manager said.

PdV also expects to restart Amuay’s 104,000 b/d FCC by November. The unit has been mostly down for repairs since late last year. Amuay, once considered among the world’s largest and most modern refineries, suffered an explosion in 2012 from which it never completely recovered.

Bringing the four CRP distillation units and both FCCs on line at the CRP would yield at least 100,000 b/d of cracked or unfinished gasoline, still short of Venezuela’s 91 and 95-octane standards, the CRP manager said.

Other CRP units undergoing repairs include naphtha reformers, alkylation, desulfurization and MTBE/TAME.

“We are hoping to normalize gasoline supply before the end of November, but some repairs could be pushed into December or even early 2021, depending on the availability of parts, some of which are being stripped from other units and some which must be imported,” the manager said.

Iran supplied three gasoline cargoes since the weekend, allowing PdV to blend its lower-quality production for tightly rationed distribution, focused mainly on Caracas and other cities.

PdV’s efforts to repair its 140,000 b/d El Palito refinery have proved more challenging, with repeated equipment breakdowns and leaks resulting in oil spills.

The company has installed refining capacity of 1.3mn b/d, most of which is inoperative. The government routinely blames US sanctions, although years of mismanagement and a lack of maintenance starts long before the sanctions were imposed.