Venezuela's Main Refining Complex Running at 10% of Capacity after 2 CDUs Shut

Reuters, October 31, 2023

Venezuela's largest refining complex, the 955,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Paraguana Refining Center, was operating at about 10% of capacity on Monday after two crude distillation units (CDUs) were shut due to a fire and lack of feedstock, according to four sources close to operations.

The paralysis at state oil company PDVSA's complex is cutting down the OPEC country's refining operations in a critical moment, when scarcity of gasoline and diesel are affecting some regions, triggering long lines of drivers in front of stations.

The Cardon and Amuay refineries integrate the Paraguana Refining Center at Venezuela's Western region, among the world's largest but that has been operating at a fraction of capacity in the last decade due to delayed maintenance and lack of repairs.

The whole complex was on Monday processing 94,000 bpd of crude, about 10% of its nameplate capacity, the sources said.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of Cardon's four CDUs was halted on Saturday following a fire that left no injured workers, reducing the refinery's crude processing to one crude unit running some 30,000 bpd, according to the sources.

The affected plant was working in "unsafe condition and leaking diesel before the fire," one of the sources said. Cardon's gasoline reformer, which produces high octane gasoline blendstock, was in service.

At the neighboring Amuay refinery, one of five CDUs was halted last week due to low crude inventories, according to a report seen by Reuters. Only one distillation unit remains in service, processing some 64,000 bpd.

Amuay's most complex units, a flexicoker and a catalytic cracker that are key to fuel production, remain idled.

(Reporting by Mircely Guanipa; Writing by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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