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Venezuela's PDVSA halts gasoline output at Cardon refinery amid fuel shortages

Credit: REUTERS/IVAN ALVARADO

Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela [PDVSA.UL] on Tuesday halted gasoline output at the reformer unit of its 310,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Cardon refinery, just a day after production restarted, two people familiar with the matter said.

CARACAS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela PDVSA.UL on Tuesday halted gasoline output at the reformer unit of its 310,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Cardon refinery, just a day after production restarted, two people familiar with the matter said.

The outage leaves the once-prosperous OPEC nation, which has for months been struggling with acute fuel shortages, without any plants producing gasoline, after Cardon's fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCC) went down over the weekend and the 146,000-bpd El Palito refinery halted production earlier this month.

The shortages have been spurred by years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance at PDVSA's refining network, with a nameplate capacity of some 1.3 million bpd, and more recently by U.S. sanctions on the company, aimed at ousting President Nicolas Maduro, which have complicated fuel imports.

Union leader Ivan Freites said a power failure caused by a lightning storm had led to the reformer outage. A second person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the outage and said PDVSA was trying to repair the reformer to put it back in service.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A flotilla of tankers from Venezuela's ally Iran arrived in the country in late September and early October, providing a temporary source of fuel.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela Writing by Luc Cohen Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

((luc.cohen@thomsonreuters.com; +58 424 133 7696; Reuters Messaging: Twitter: @cohenluc))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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