Global Processing

Fire extinguished at Venezuelan refinery

August 1, 2006

A fire broke out early at a major oil refinery in western Venezuela, but it was extinguished without reported injuries or loss of deliveries, officials said. According to the Associated Press, the fire began in the distillation unit of the 635,000 barrel-a-day Amuay refinery, said state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, in a statement. PDVSA said the unit affected produces 190,000 barrels a day, but that the rest of the refinery was operating normally. Oil deliveries to the international and domestic markets would not be affected, PDVSA said. Earlier, the site was evacuated and blocked off as firefighters battled the fire. Journalists from local media outlets reported seeing flames that reached as high as 25 meters (80 feet). The Amuay refinery—part of Venezuela''s giant Paraguana complex—has suffered a series of problems in recent months, including a fire in March that killed one and injured four. The refinery''s manager, Jesus Luongo, said earlier this month that PDVSA has spent more than $160 million to improve safety at the installation in response to the string of accidents. PDVSA cntracted DuPont, which gave 290,000 hours of safety-related training to workers last year. Venezuela is the world''s fifth-largest oil exporter and is consistently among the top five suppliers of crude to the United States.