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By Deisy Buitrago and Mircely Guanipa
CARACAS/PUNTO FIJO, Venezuela, March 29 (Reuters) - V enezuela’s main oil export terminal of Jose has restarted operations after a blackout earlier this week paralyzed crude shipments, the lifeblood of the OPEC nation’s economy, according to three sources and Refinitiv Eikon data.
Oil workers’ union leader Jose Bodas said operations at the terminal had partially restarted by Thursday evening. A source at state-run oil company PDVSA said activity at the terminal had restarted around midday on Thursday, and that the port was operating at 100 percent capacity.
“Operations at TAEJ started normally yesterday,” said another PDVSA source, using a Spanish acronym for the Jose terminal.
Data from Refinitiv Eikon showed that one tanker, the Marie C, exited Jose early on Friday after loading and was on its way to the Paranagua port in Brazil hours later.
The South American country was rocked by its second blackout in less than a month on Monday, but most of the country had regained power by Thursday, after President Nicolas Maduro announced that he would launch a “load management” plan to stabilize the troubled electrical grid.
The country was not able to export oil for four full days during the more recent blackout, adding to a full week of lost export capacity during the outage that began March 7. That was likely to result in a substantial drop in Venezuela’s total export levels for the month of March.
Even before the blackouts disrupted electricity supply to crucial oil infrastructure, Venezuela’s crude exports had been hit by U.S. sanctions on PDVSA as part of the Trump administration’s bid to oust Maduro.
Exports fell 40 percent to an average of 920,000 barrels per day in February after the sanctions hit in late January. The United States had previously been the largest market for Venezuelan crude. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo Writing by Luc Cohen Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler)