PDVSA halts unit at Amuay refinery after fire

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he corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

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MARACAY, Venezuela, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA halted two key gasoline production units at its Amuay refinery, the country's largest, after a fire in the area, four sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

The fire took place in a ditch on the west side of one of the distillers and obliged PDVSA to call an emergency halt to the units. The fire was controlled several hours later and did not cause injuries, a report seen by Reuters said.

"There was a fire, it's now been controlled. The good thing is it didn't affect the (catalytic) cracking unit," one worker who asked not to be named said.

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PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amuay, which can process 645,000 barrels per day, restarted its catalytic cracking unit in July.

The Cardon refinery, which along with Amuay makes up the Paraguana Refining Center, recently restarted gasoline production.

Much of PDVSA's 1.3 million bpd refining capacity is offline after years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance, prompting the OPEC nation to depend on imported fuel. U.S. sanctions have restricted those imports, contributing to long lines for motorists to fill their tanks at service stations.

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Reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Writing by Deisy Buitrago and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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