Venezuela's PDVSA Resumes Operations at El Palito Refinery Unit

Reuters, June 12, 2023

Venezuela's state energy company Petroleos de Venezuela PDVSA has resumed operation of the catalytic cracking unit at its El Palito refinery, a government-allied legislator and seven sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.

The refinery's reactivation, almost one year after its stoppage, is a key move to alleviate the recent fuel shortage in the South American nation.

El Palito, the country's smallest refinery, is undergoing major repairs and expansion projects after a 100-million-euro deal signed with the state-owned Iranian National Company of Petroleum Refining and Distribution (NIORDC).

It has a production capacity of 146,000 barrels per day (bpd), and the plant's fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) unit has already restarted with a production of 20,000 bpd, workers at the plant said.

The unit is expected to be at full capacity by Monday, legislator Willian Rodriguez told Reuters.

Shaky operations and frequent stoppages in Venezuela's 1.3 million-bpd oil refining system have led to intermittent fuel shortages over recent years, forcing drivers to queue for hours to fill up their tanks.

Iran has provided the government of President Nicolas Maduro with fuel and diluents to convert its extra-heavy crude into exportable varieties and since 2020 it has been supplying parts to repair Venezuela's refining circuit.

(Reporting by Tibisay Romero, Deisy Buitrago, and Mircely Guanipa; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Mark Porter and Ros Russell)

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