A refinery in northern Venezuela exploded yesterday, and ousted leader Nicolas Maduro – still clinging to power – said it was a terrorist attack with a “big and powerful weapon”.
An investigation into the attack has been opened, he added.
According to a report on the event by ABC News, Maduro went on to say that the country’s security authorities had arrested two foreign nationals a day earlier. The foreigners had ties to extremist groups, Maduro also said, without going into details.
“Venezuela is facing a permanent conspiracy against our life, against our strategic industry, against the electrical service, the refinery, the oil industry, the public services,” Maduro said.
Argus Media reported that a crude oil distillation unit at the Amuay refinery exploded on Wednesday, citing a facility manager as saying the damage was “very extensive”. Another source from the refinery said the explosion could have been caused by a water leak that could have caused a blast of steam.
The distillation unit has a capacity of 100,000 b / d. The entire Amuay facility has a capacity of 635,000 bpd. PDVSA has been trying to increase processing rates there, as well as at the 305,000 bpd Cardon refinery, also in the region, to increase gasoline production amid severe shortages.
This push to increase treatment rates, according to one of the Argus sources, may have been what led to the explosion. According to the source, the company was neglecting security concerns as it tried to bring more processing capacity online.
The damage to the distillation unit, the source told Argus, “initially appears so severe that the unit may be unrecoverable and may need to be completely rebuilt, but we have to wait for accident investigators to complete their work. technical reports. “
By Charles Kennedy for Oil chauffage
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