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Problems at Venezuelan refineries slow output

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

An explosion has slowed but not halted operations at Venezuela’s largest refinery, controlled by the country’s state oil company PDVSA.

The fire originated in a furnace in the hydrodesulfurisation unit 4 at the 645 000 bpd refinery. The principle elements of the unit are said to be undamaged and no employees were hurt in the blaze. Some secondary processes inside the CRP complex were suspended to prevent the fire from spreading.

At another PDVSA run facility, the Isla complex on the Caribbean island of Curacao, a boiler failure has paralysed four processing units. The four units at the 335 000 bpd refinery have been closed for a week and are expected to be operational again on March 15. However, a catalytic cracking unit, which has been incapacitated since Match 2010, has been operational since January.

Exports from South America’s top oil producer have dropped in recent years. This is partly because refineries and upgraders that turn the country’s Orinoco crude into exportable oil have suffered numerous accidents and planned stoppages. This extremely viscous and tar like crude is sourced from the Orinoco oilsands in the north of the country.

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