For the third day fire is still burning at Venezuela’s biggest refinery, after one of the most deadly accidents at an oil industry in recent history.
Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez declared that the fire is contained and that the Amuay refinery will be able to restart its activity in two days, when the firemen are expected to put out flames.
“In the coming hours we are going to extinguish those tanks,” Ramirez told state TV.
On Sunday, the 645,000 barrel-per-day facility was partly destroyed by an explosion caused by a gas leak, killing 41 people and destroying nearby houses. State oil company PDVSA declared that none of the production units were affected and that Venezuela has enough stocks to keep unaffected its domestic markets and exports.
The explosion is expected to lead to an increase of the global fuel prices, which are already affected by worries that the Tropical Storm Isaac could suspend US oil production. Ivan Freites, a union leader at the Paraguana complex, said it is impossible for a refinery to restart production two days after such a blast.
“A refinery is not a coffee-maker,” he said. “They don’t understand the restart process. The managers are acting like political operatives … not thinking of the victim’s families.”