UPDATE 2-Haiti fuel shipments resume after terminal repair

Tue Feb 9, 2010 7:06pm EST

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* U.S. company helped repair quake-damaged terminal

* Varreux is Haiti's largest fuel storage depot (Adds electricity restored to portion of capital)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Fuel shipments to Haiti's Varreux main tanker terminal have resumed after emergency repairs on the facility damaged in last month's earthquake, the operator and a U.S. company that helped with the repairs said on Tuesday.

Shipments to the privately owned Port-au-Prince terminal, which normally receives and stores more than 70 percent of Haiti's fuel, had been halted since the Jan. 12 quake damaged its piers and installations. The earthquake also badly damaged Port-au-Prince's main seaport.

Varreux's Haitian operator WIN Group and equipment and service provider SEACOR Holdings Inc. (CKH.N) said in a statement the first shipment of fuel to the restored berth was completed early on Sunday and the vessel had departed.

"We are all taking a deep breath now that the fuel supply to Haiti has been restored," said Youri Mevs, managing partner of WIN Group.

The bulk of Terminal Varreux's 18 storage tanks -- with a total capacity of approximately 45 million gallons (170 million litres) -- were undamaged. Mevs said the restoration of fuel shipments would give a major boost to recovery efforts in Haiti.

The devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people, injured about 300,000 and left more than 1 million homeless, as well as wrecking public buildings and infrastructure in what was already the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.

In another sign of some initial recovery, state-owned power company Electricite d'Haiti said on Tuesday it had restored electricity services to a small portion of the capital, generating about 10 megawatts from one of its main plants. That would provide service to about 2,000 homes in northeast Port-au-Prince, the company said in a statement.

"Every organization within Haiti's power industry recognizes the importance of restoring electricity as rapidly as possible and will continue to work around the clock to move the process forward," said Serge Raphael, the utility's general director.

WIN and SEACOR said the repairs at Varreux had included the installation of an interim vessel mooring system, the repair and testing of critical piping systems and the revision of terminal operating procedures.

Additional emergency construction at the facility was providing the capability to receive containerized cargoes, which would give additional support to the international relief and recovery operation in Haiti.

An international task force also was repairing Port-au-Prince's main seaport to restore its container handling capacity. (Writing by Pascal Fletcher and Jane Sutton; Editing by Bill Trott)

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