MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuela's state energy company Petroleos de Venezuela PDVSA has resumed operation at the catalytic cracking unit at the El Palito refinery, a government-allied legislator and seven sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The refinery's reactivation, almost one year after its stoppage, is a key move to alleviate the recent fuel shortage in the South American nation.
El Palito, the country's smallest refinery, is undergoing major repairs and expansion projects after a 100-million-euro deal signed with the state-owned Iranian National Company of Petroleum Refining and Distribution (NIORDC).
It has a production capacity of 146,000 barrels per day (bpd), and the plant's fluidized catalytic cracking (FCC) unit has already restarted with a production of 20,000 bpd, workers at the plant said. The unit is expected to be at full capacity by Monday, legislator Willian Rodriguez told Reuters.
Shaky operations and frequent stoppages in Venezuela's 1.3 million-bpd oil refining system have led to intermittent fuel shortages over recent years, forcing drivers to queue for hours to fill up their tanks.
Iran has provided the government of President Nicolas Maduro with fuel and diluents to convert its extra-heavy crude into exportable varieties and since 2020 it has been supplying parts to repair Venezuela's refining circuit.
We remind, PDVSA has allocated an oil cargo to a unit of Eni for a February loading, the first to the Italian firm following a contract suspension this year by new management at the state-run company, people familiar with the matter said. Eni and Spanish oil firm Repsol in May last year received authorizations from the U.S. State Department to take the crude to Europe for outstanding Venezuela debt and dividends, an exception to U.S. oil sanctions on Venezuela.