Venezuela's PDVSA, Chevron restart crude blending facility -sources

CARACAS, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA and Chevron Corp have restarted crude blending at their Petropiar joint venture, two sources familiar with the operation said on Thursday.

Operations at the plant were halted in September due to rising inventories, as U.S. sanctions on the OPEC-member nation left few companies willing to buy Venezuelan crude.

It was now producing at a rate of around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Merey crude, the sources said.

Earlier this week, PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corp restarted their Petrosinovensa blending facility. The two plants are currently the only ones blending extra-heavy, tar-like crude from the Orinoco oil belt with lighter grades in order to produce Merey, a popular grade for Asian refiners.

Neither PDVSA nor Chevron immediately responded to requests for comment.

An Oct. 8 internal PDVSA report seen by Reuters said the company was seeking to restart the Petropiar blending facility, but was repairing a gas leak.

Venezuela reshuffled oil output in June to focus on producing Merey heavy crude, a blend of heavy and light oil most preferred by Asian refiners, hoping to secure exports. PDVSA lost its largest U.S. customers after Washington imposed sanctions in January. (Reporting by Mircely Guanipa and Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Richard Pullin)