Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA has resumed gasoline production at the only operating refinery in the country home to the world’s largest oil reserves that is experiencing severe gasoline shortages, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
PDVSA’s refinery Cardon, capable of processing 310,000 barrels per day, was hit by a fire last week and people with knowledge of the operations told Reuters on July 6 that gasoline production was halted because the fire had affected the catalytic cracking unit.
The refinery has since resumed production of gasoline, according to Reuters’ sources, and the Cardon facility is currently producing around 30,000 bpd of gasoline, union leader Ivan Freites told Reuters over the weekend.
Venezuela’s 1.3-million-bpd refining capacity is mostly offline, due to the cash crunch at PDVSA and Venezuela, the crumbling industry, and years of lack of investment in maintenance and repairs.
The lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic in the country which is in a severe economic collapse has reduced some of the demand for gasoline, but shortages persist.
Venezuela has seen some reprieve recently in its fuel shortage problem, after Iranian tankers shipped gasoline and refining components to the Latin American country in an open defiance of the U.S. sanctions.
Nicolas Maduro’s regime tried to alleviate the fuel shortage in the country, but a new scheme of subsidized gasoline failed to put an end to the long lines in which Venezuelans queued to fill their cars with fuel.
Despite the shipments from Iran, Venezuelans continue to queue for gasoline in the middle of July, while the U.S. is looking for ways to cut off Iranian gasoline deliveries to Venezuela.
Ezio Angelini, the head of the Maracaibo Chamber of Commerce, told Agence-France Presse this week:
“We knew this would happen, because Venezuela is not producing gasoline or is producing very little.”