RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA received approval to operate a key diesel processing unit as well as a series of storage tanks at its Abreu e Lima refinery the country's oil regulator ANP said on Wednesday.
The approval, announced in the Diario Official, the Brazilian equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register, authorizes Petrobras to operate a 13,000-cubic-meter-a-day diesel hydro-treatment unit and a 3 million normal-cubic-meter-a-day hydrogen generation unit.
The ANP also approved the operation of eight storage tanks at the site at the Port of Suape near Recife, the capital of Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco.
At a cost of nearly $20 billion, Abreu e Lima, also known as RNEST, is one of the most expensive refineries ever built. More than two years behind schedule, the first of two refining production lines or "trains" received authorization to start operations in October.
The refinery, originally budgeted at about $4 billion, is at the center of a growing corruption, bribery and kick-back scandal at Petrobras, as the oil company is commonly known.
The operating license limits operation of the 115,000 barrel-a-day first train to 39 percent of nominal crude processing capacity of 7.154 cubic meters a day (45,000 barrels a day) until key environmental equipment is working.
A second 115,000 barrel a day train is scheduled to start operation sometime in the second half of 2015. (Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)