HOUSTON/CARACAS, March 29 (Reuters) - Operations at Venezuela's main oil-exporting port Jose were hit by a crude oil spill on Tuesday, union sources and shipping agents told Reuters.
A break in a pipeline that runs from the oil terminal to a single buoy mooring (SBM) facility near Venezuela's eastern coast would have produced the spill, according to four sources familiar with the incident.
None of the sources could confirm the spill's magnitude but operators said there were no vessels docking at the SBM at the time of the incident.
The 36-inch pipe can transport up to 32,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to the SBM facility, which is used by tankers to load oil for export.
State-owned oil company PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for information about the incident. It is also unknown how loading and unloading of oil would have been affected.
"The spill on the coast is complex," said a shipping operator who asked that his name not be published.
Improved and diluted crude is shipped from the SBM facility, which serves PDVSA's San Felix project.
One of the terminal's three docks was out of action for two weeks until Sunday for unscheduled maintenance, which caused delays in the loading of crude.
These setbacks come just as PDVSA deals with a shortage of gasoline that generated queues at service stations in some cities in the country last week. (Reporting by Marianna Párraga in Houston, Alexandra Ulmer in Caracas and; Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Venezuela, Writing by Girish Gupta, editing by Louise Heavens)