CARACAS, Oct 9 (Reuters) – State-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) halted gasoline production at the El Palito refinery following a fire that started in a unit, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The fire affected the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCC), which is key in gasoline production, according to one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The El Palito refinery has a production capacity of 146,000 barrels per day (bpd).
“The problem was in the FCC unit. They had to cut the load to the plant,” a worker told Reuters.
PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday.
The incident is generated in the midst of PDVSA’s efforts to restart gasoline production in Venezuela, whose 1.3 million bpd refining network is greatly reduced by years of divestment, mismanagement and sanctions that limit its proper maintenance, which has deepened the fuel shortage this year.
The El Palito cracking unit in the country’s north-central area recently restarted gasoline production and was at a level of 35,000 bpd, a person familiar with it said. PDVSA’s 310,000 bpd Cardón refinery in western Falcón state is producing around 25,000 bpd of gasoline.
(Report by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Tibisay Romero in Valencia. Edited by Mayela Armas)