Fire erupts at PdVSA Cardon refinery in Venezuela

By KEJAL VYAS

CARACAS -- Venezuela's 300,000-bpd Cardon oil refinery was hit by a fire Tuesday, forcing a halt in operations at the facility's naphtha reformer unit, a local union leader said.

Workers at the site shut down the unit shortly after a small explosion caused a fire at the plant, Ivan Freites, secretary general of the oil workers union, said.

He added that some workers were being evacuated as a precautionary measure but did not offer more details.

Cardon and the adjacent Amuay refinery make up the country's Paraguana Refining Complex, which has capacity to process just under 1 million bpd of crude.

However, frequent accidents and other mishaps at facilities operated by state oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, have sharply reduced output in recent years.

Most recently, an Aug. 25 gas-leak explosion at Amuay killed more than 40 people and raised questions about PdVSA's maintenance efforts at its refineries. Amuay has so far only regained about half of its total capacity since the deadly blast.


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