Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Venezuela firefighters continue battling refinery blaze

PARAGUANA, Venezuela, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Venezuelan firefighters continued battling a blaze at the country's largest refinery on Tuesday, struggling to extinguish a third fuel storage tank following a blast that killed nearly 50 people in the nation's deadliest oil industry accident.

Flames began shooting out of the storage tank at the 645,000-barrel-per-day Amuay refinery at around 8:00 a.m. (1230 GMT), less than an hour after Reuters witnesses and state oil company PDVSA said the fire had been completely extinguished.

On Monday, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told Reuters in an exclusive interview that the facility could restart operations on Friday if the blaze is out by Wednesday.

The charred remains of two other fuel tanks, which had been extinguished before dawn, stood half-melted from three days of the blazing inferno.

The explosion at Amuay on Saturday killed 48 people and helped pushed up U.S. fuel prices in markets that were already bullish because of a threat that Tropical Storm Isaac could disrupt refinery operations on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Read More