Pdvsa hopes to put out fire in Venezuelan refinery on Friday
The Venezuelan state-owned company assigned an investigation taskforce to inquire into the causes of the event
After meeting with Minister of Petroleum and Mining Rafael Ramírez, the Venezuelan president informed, "There is no risk of complications. There is no sabotage and tomorrow (Friday) the fire in the second tank should be under control."
On Wednesday evening, a lightning hit the seals on two naphtha tanks causing a fire.
This is the second accident in a Pdvsa refinery in less that one month. On August 25, a deadly explosion hit the olefin tanks of Amuay refinery, northwest Venezuela. As many as 41 people died in the blast.
Ramirez informed that a lightning allegedly caused the explosion in El Palito and remarked, "Maintenance operations are constantly carried out within the facilities and the security systems are updated." He added that an investigation team has been appointed to inquire into the causes of the event, though.
Nevertheless, workers are suspicious about the proper functioning of such systems.
José Bodas, the secretary general of the United Federation of Venezuelan Oil Workers (Futpv), reckons it is necessary to find out whether investments in maintenance have been made. Meanwhile, Futpv's executive secretary Iván Freites remarked that two accidents in such short time were not mere coincidence.
Freites stated that lack of inspection and maintenance is quite evident. "The anti-lightning systems located close to the tanks are set to prevent any accidents. It is a discharge commonly sent to the ground."
For his part, Engineer Gustavo Benítez, a specialist in fire and a former security manager in Pdvsa, outlined that El Palito relies on an anti-lightning system. However, there are many questions that have not been answered yet.
"What happened to the protection systems in the facilities? Why did the foam system not work? If the lightning hit the tank, why did the fire spread? Tanks are 40 meters apart from one another. What happened to the cooling systems?
Translated by Jhean Cabrera
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."