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Venezuela oil minister says authorities disrupt plan to attack refinery

December 17/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuela's Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said on Friday that authorities had disrupted a plan to attack Venezuela's 146,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) El Palito refinery, and had arrested two suspects in the plot, reported Reuters.

El Aissami alleged, without providing evidence, that the planned attack had the support of the Colombian and US governments. Bogota, Washington and dozens of other countries do not recognize Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as the country's rightful leader, arguing he rigged his 2018 re-election.

"This terrorist plan was prepared in Colombia," El Aissami said. "It is also important to denounce that the US Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency had knowledge of the plan and advised the terrorists involved."

El Aissami said the alleged attackers also planned to blow up a pipeline supplying gasoline from the refinery to the Yagua fuel sorting station. El Palito halted gasoline output earlier this month.

The announcement comes as the once-prosperous OPEC nation suffers chronic gasoline shortages due to years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance at its 1.3 MMbpd refining network, as well as US sanctions disrupting fuel imports.

In October, President Nicolas Maduro said the country's 645,000-bpd Amuay refinery was hit by a "terrorist attack."

Venezuela's opposition has in the past accused the government of making false claims of sabotage to critical infrastructure to distract from its mismanagement of public services.

As MRC wrote before, in late October 2020, Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela restarted gasoline production at the FCC unit of its 310,000 bpd Cardon refinery. The unit was producing between 15,000 and 20,000 bpd of gasoline, according to union leader Ivan Freites. PDVSA earlier last week of October began producing at least 25,000 bpd of gasoline at Cardons reformer unit.

MRC also reported that Russian state oil company Rosneft's decision to cease operations in Venezuela and sell its assets there to a Russian government-owned company was a "maneuver" made in reaction to collapsing oil prices, a US State Department official said earlier this year.

We remind that Angarsk Polymers Plant, part of Russian oil giant Rosneft, has resumed its low density polyethylene (LDPE) production after an unscheduled shutdown because of a technical issues at the ethylene unit. The plant's customers said Angarsk Polymers Plant had brought on-stream its LDPE production by 28 August after the forced shutdown due to technical problems at its ethylene production. And the first shipments of polyethylene (PE) to customers began on 31 August. The outage lasted slightly over two weeks and began on 10 August The plant's annual production capacity is about 75,000 tonnes.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, October estimated LDPE consumption in Russia grew to 50,030 tonnes from 23,930 tonnes a month earlier. Russian producers increased domestic LDPE shipments after the September shutdowns for maintenance. Russia's estimated LDPE consumption was about 456,490 tonnes in January-October 2020, down by 1% year on year. Lower production was offset by higher imports.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PE, crude and gaz condensate, LDPE, petrochemistry, Rosneft, Angarsk Polymers Plant, Venezuela, Columbia, Russia, USA.
Category:General News
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