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PDVSA tries to restart gasoline production as shortage worsens in Venezuela: report


Amuay operating at 14%, Cardon at 17.7%

Long waiting lines to buy gasoline in Caracas

  • Author
  • Mery Mogollon
  • Editor
  • Shashwat Pradhan
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas Oil

Caracas, Venezuela — The shortage of gasoline in the Venezuelan market has worsened in September, according to a technical report reviewed by S&P Global Platts.

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Venezuela's 955,000 b/d Paraguana Refining Center (CRP) was operating at 145,000 b/d, or 15.2% of capacity, with two of nine distillers in operation, said a technical report dated on Sept. 6.

Located in northwest Venezuela, CRP includes the 645,000 b/d Amuay and 310,000 b/d Cardon refining facilities, and is the largest complex of its kind in Venezuela. It also includes the 16,000 b/d Bajo Grande asphalt plant, which has been out of service for several years.

Amuay refinery is operating at 90,000 b/d, or 14% of capacity. Four of five crude distillation units (CDUs) at the facility remain out of service. The Cardon refinery is operating at 55,000 b/d, or 17.7% of capacity. Three of four crude distillation units at the facility remain out of service.

Meanwhile on Sept. 5, PDVSA restarted the 45,000 b/d naphtha reformer unit at its Cardon refinery with a load of 25,000 b/d, according to the technical report. This unit was shut down due to multiple failures on Aug. 31. However, the unit only remained in operation for 24 hours due to a reactor failure, which forced it to be stopped again on Sept. 6.

"Repairs could take an additional two weeks," said a unit operator who spoke anonymously.

According to a report, Cardon refinery's High Vacuum 1 unit remains in service with a load of 32,000 b/d. However, the 90,000 b/d fluid catalytic cracker remains on standby without sufficient vacuum gas oil load to operate continuously.

On Aug. 21, the Cardon refinery was producing 17,000 b/d of gasoline, but in unstable conditions and insufficient to cover domestic demand, according to previous reports.

"Sales are rationed and still not enough for everyone in line," Roberto Santiago, a 45-year-old engineer who waited 4 hours at a gas station in eastern Caracas to buy gasoline, told S&P Global Platts.

Such lines of vehicles have not been observed in Caracas since May, sources said. In the rest of the country, there was a severe lack of gasoline, according to local media reports.

Also, in the 140,000 b/d El Palito refinery, PDVSA has failed in its attempts to maintain continuous operation. No updated information was available about the operating rate at the El Palito refinery.

PDVSA could not be reached immediately for comment.