Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery has been shut down following a gas explosion that killed 41 people and injured 86 others some 240 miles west of Caracas, news agencies reported.
The Saturday blast at the Amuay refinery was the result of a gas leak, which seriously damaged a national guard post and housing complex, according to Venezuelan oil officials.
Nearly 220 homes in the immediate area were damaged in the explosion, while 18 troops and 15 of their family members were killed when the explosion took out the guard post and nearby housing complex.
The 645,000-barrel capacity refinery was shut down after the explosion, though there has reported been no structural damage to the main refining units.
There are concerns now that the refinery will not be able to meet its internal and external supply requirements, and the US market will likely be affected by this.
The incident comes as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez unveiled a plan to double the country’s daily crude oil output over the next six years by spending $130 billion.
On Tuesday, oil rose for the first time in four days in New York as the fire caused by the explosion at the Venezuela refinery continued to spread, and as US crude inventories were forecast to drop, and a storm headed for the Gulf of Mexico.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com