UPDATE 3-Power back at Venezuela's Amuay after blackout shuts refinery

miércoles 5 de noviembre de 2014 01:08 GYT

(Adds PDVSA comments)

By Sailu Urribarri

PARAGUANA Nov 4 (Reuters) - A blackout halted Venezuela's biggest oil refinery on Tuesday night, although officials said electricity supply had been re-established and operations were gradually starting up again.

"Works to restart (the refinery) have begun," Oil Minister Asdrubal Chavez said on social media website Twitter late on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear what operations had resumed at the 645,000-barrel-per-day Amuay facility, or how long it might be before the entire complex was up and running.

The new oil minister, a cousin of late leader Hugo Chavez, added that the government was investigating what he described as a "strange" electrical failure.

The government of Nicolas Maduro often blames saboteurs out to harm the socialist administration for blackouts or refinery accidents. Critics say refinery issues are due to negligence and lack of investments.

An explosion at Amuay in 2012 killed more than 40 people, sparked a huge fire and halted operations.

On Tuesday night, electricity also went out in residential areas around the refinery. The shutdown led to heavy flaring that lit up the surroundings, one worker said.   Continuación...