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Production at Venezuela’s largest refinery hit by blackout

A general view of the Amuay refinery complex which belongs to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in Punto Fijo, Venezuela November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS, July 3 (Reuters) – Production at Venezuela’s largest refinery, which can process about 645,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), was halted late on Saturday by an electrical fault that caused a blackout, according to five people familiar with the matter.

Amuay is the only refinery producing gasoline at the Paraguana Refinery Center (CRP) following a halt in some operations at the neighboring Cardon refinery while a reformer fault is fixed.

“Blackout in the Amuay refinery. An electrical problem. Total blackout. In Amuay, the distilling and catalytic plants might be affected, which is currently producing about 80% of the country’s gasoline,” one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

State-owned oil company PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The issues arose from a failure in the power plant that supplies power to both refineries but affects Amuay the most, one of the sources said. While electricity had been restored the halt in processing has not been fixed, the source added.

PDVSA will work to restore electricity to Amuay on Sunday, two of the sources added.

The CRP is located on Venezuela’s northwest coast and is operating far below its capacity of processing 955,000 bpd.

Venezuela’s network of refineries has a production capacity of 1.3 million bpd.

People from nearby communities that depend on electricity generated by the CRP took to social media to report power cuts.

Venezuela faces intermittent gasoline shortages following years of disinvestment and poor maintenance across the state refining network, as well as electrical failures and limits on fuel imports due to U.S. sanctions seeking to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to leave office.

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