Venezuela's PDVSA confirms oil leak into sea near refinery complex

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] on Saturday confirmed an oil leak from an oil line and a gas pipeline into the Caribbean Sea near the largest refining center in the country, but said it had begun repair and cleanup efforts.

PDVSA discovered the spill in the Golfete de Coro area in Falcon state during an aerial inspection, a statement from the company said, adding that despite the leak it guaranteed it will continue to supply crude to the Paraguana Refining Complex (CRP), which includes the Amuay and Cardon refineries.

Both Amuay and Cardon have experienced multiple outages in recent years that the opposition blames on mismanagement and lack of maintenance.

In recent days fishermen and experts had sounded the alarm about a slick in the Golfete area, known for pristine beaches and nature preserves in the northwest of the country.

The incident comes a month after a spill covered swathes of Morrocoy National Park. Authorities say they addressed that oil slick, but have given no details about its size or origin.

Carlos Carmona, a researcher and member of the Venezuelan Ecology Society, said dead fish were found where the Golfete slick was discovered in an area that is home to shorebirds, nesting sea turtles and a black mangrove reserve.

Hit by U.S. sanctions that have exacerbated an acute fuel shortage crisis, Venezuela’s government on Friday announced a new fuel distribution initiative and said it was planning new refining projects, without providing further details.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Tibisay Romero in Valencia; Writing by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Daniel Wallis