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Venezuela Says Electromagnetic Attack Behind Latest Blackout

Another blackout turned the lights off in more than half of Venezuela, Reuters reports citing witnesses and social media posts. The report added that Caracas had blamed the blackout on an electromagnetic attack, without mentioning the state of disrepair of Venezuela’s energy infrastructure.

According to the witnesses, this is the first blackout to occur since March that includes the capital Caracas, when a string of blackouts crippled the country. The government blamed the earlier attacks on the opposition and U.S. interference, while the opposition itself said they were the results of years of neglect.

The March blackout started at a 10GW hydroelectric facility, the Guri complex, and spread through a 765 kW transmission line to central Venezuela, leaving many with no power and water, as water supply systems also rely on the grid.

The blackout also aggravated the already dramatic situation with the country’s oil industry, with Argus Media reporting in March that Venezuela’s largest oil export terminal and crude oil processing complex in Jose had both shut down. Also, three heavy crude upgraders that PDVSA operates together with its joint venture partners were at that time suspended, according to local sources, as well as several petrochemical plants.

Earlier this month another blackout shut down Venezuela’s largest refinery, CRP. The complex, also called Paraguana Refining Center, consists of two refineries with a combined processing capacity of 955,000 bpd. As Reuters noted in its report of the accident, the complex, like the rest of Venezuela’s processing facilities, has been operating below capacity for several years because of the same operational problems that have plagued Venezuela’s entire oil industry.

The United States imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and PDVSA at the end of January to cut off a cash lifeline for Nicolas Maduro and his regime, after Washington recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the Latin American country that sits on the world’s largest crude oil reserves.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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