(Recasts with PDVSA comments, quote)
By Sailu Urribarri
PARAGUANA, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA said on Wednesday its Amuay refinery will be operating normally within the next six days after a blackout shut it down on Tuesday night.
The start-up process at the 645,000 barrel-per-day refinery, located in the northwest of the South American OPEC country, has already begun.
“Today Wednesday industrial services such as water, air, and steam, among others, which are necessary to get the units restarted, will be fully functional,” said Jesus Sanchez, who is in charge of the Paraguana Refining Center, home to the Amuay and Cardon refineries.
“Additionally, we’ve begun the restarting process of units which produce components for gasoline and diesel blends, and within the next six days we’ll have the plants operating normally,” he added.
Amuay workers had previously told Reuters the start-up would take at least 48 hours.
Oil minister Asdrubal Chavez said on Tuesday night the government was investigating what he described as a “strange” electrical failure at Amuay, the country’s biggest oil refinery.
The government of President 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 that sparked a huge fire killed more than 40 people and halted operations.
On Wednesday, an explosion at a gas plant of Curacao’s 335,000 bpd Isla refinery, which is operated by PDVSA, injured two people, according to workers. (Reporting by Sailu Urribarri; Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga and Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr)