By KEJAL VYAS
CARACAS -- Government-run energy monopoly Petroleos de
Venezuela, or PdVSA, has ordered at least 860,000 bbl in
gasoline shipments to feed its domestic market after a major
explosion at the countrys largest oil refinery last weekend rendered most
of the facility paralyzed, a company official with knowledge of
the shipments said Friday.
PdVSA expects the shipments to enter Venezuela from three
vessels soon, said the official, who asked not to be identified
because he isn't authorized to speak publically on the
He added that two additional shipments are also expected to
be contracted but he didn't have details on their size.
The news came in the aftermath of a Saturday explosion at
the oil-rich country's 640,000 bpd Amuay refinery, seen as one of Venezuela's
worst industrial accidents ever.
Believed to have been sparked by a gas leak, the predawn
blast killed more than 40 people, many of which were members of
Venezuela's National Guard posted at the site.
While officials have yet to give a full assessment of damage
and reparation costs, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez has
maintained that exports and domestic fuel supplies won't be
Mr. Ramirez said Wednesday night that he expected the Amuay
facility to be restarted in a few days and that it
would be able to regain previous capacity.
Flames consuming three fuel storage tanks after the
explosion were extinguished Tuesday morning and a total of nine
tanks were affected by the accident. Government officials,
however, said the processing part of the plant was intact.
Amuay is one of two major facilities at the country's
Paraguana refining complex, which has a
capacity to process more than 900,000 bpd of crude oil.
Union officials said the complex was operating well below
capacity before the weekend accident, and Mr. Ramirez earlier
this year acknowledged the Paraguana complex, as a whole, was
operating at 79% capacity.
The Amuay disaster has cast a spotlight on management of the
nationalized oil industry under President Hugo Chavez, who is
seeking a third six-year term in the Oct. 7 election.
Critics have said the leftist government has shortchanged
investments into maintenance as it uses large chunks
of PdVSA's income to finance state social programs.
Dow Jones Newswires