Venezuela's second largest refinery resumes gasoline production

A general view of the Amuay refinery complex which belongs to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in Punto Fijo, Venezuela November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

CARACAS, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Venezuela's state oil and gas company PDVSA has restarted gasoline production at the country's second largest refinery after repairing a breakdown, five sources with knowledge of the operation said on Monday.

The Cardon refinery's naphtha reformer, with a capacity of 45,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), produces high-octane components for gasoline and is key to the country's gasoline supply.

PDVSA (PDVSA.UL) commissioned it with an output of about 28,000 bpd about a fortnight ago. The reformer "is already producing", one source told Reuters.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The reformer suspended production at the end of June to undergo maintenance that extended beyond the 21 days originally scheduled. read more

"We are producing 28,000 b/d (barrels per day) of pure lomito (high-grade gasoline) of 102 octane," said another source.

But Cardon's 88,000 bpd capacity Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (FCC) unit remains stalled, the sources said.

A restart would provide relief to ongoing supply failures in the nation, whose 1.3 million bpd grid has been crippled by years of disinvestment and lack of maintenance.

The Amuay refinery and Cardon make up the Paraguana Refining Center in the western state of Falcon, which has a combined production capacity of 955,000 bpd. At Amuay, the catalytic cracker was operational.

The El Palito refinery on the country's central coast, the smallest in the Venezuelan refining circuit, halted gasoline production at the end of 2021.

In May, an agreement was announced between Iran's state-owned National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Company and Venezuela to repair the refinery. read more

Reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Editing by Steven Grattan and Jan Harvey

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