Venezuela’s Cardon Refinery Restarts Catalytic Cracker

Reuters, September 11, 2023

Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA has restarted its second largest refinery Cardon's catalytic cracker, key for producing gasoline, after being out of service for five weeks due to an outage and lack of feedstock, sources close to operations said on Monday.

PDVSA's gasoline-making units have been working intermittently in recent years as delayed maintenance and lack of capital for repairs cause frequent problems.

Power blackouts and insufficient feedstocks also have hit the plants, limiting output and leading to long lines at gas stations in some regions of the South American country.

As of Sunday, the Cardon refinery's fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) was processing 55,000 barrels per day (bpd), about 60% of its capacity, one of the sources said.

Cardon's FCC had been out of service since late July due to a minor fire and insufficient production of vacuum gasoil (VGO) to feed the unit. Days after Cardon's shutdown, the lack of VGO also forced PDVSA to halt a similar plant at the neighboring Amuay refinery, which remains out of service.

PDVSA did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Cardon had two crude distillations units in service on Monday, processing some 100,000 bpd, compared with a capacity of 310,000 bpd. The Amuay refinery, the country's largest, was processing 135,000 bpd of crude, versus an installed capacity of 645,000 bpd, the sources added.

At the Puerto la Cruz refinery, crude processing was at 85,000 bpd this week versus 187,000 bpd capacity, while Venezuela's smallest refinery, El Palito, had a crude unit in service and its FCC was processing 42,000 bpd, two separate sources said.

(Reporting by Mircely Guanipa; Additional reporting by Tibisay Romero; Writing by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Josie Kao)

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