Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, is trying to extinguish a fire at a naphtha tank at its El Palito refinery after putting out another fire at a different tank, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.
The fires were triggered by lightning that struck a seal on the two tanks at 7:30 p.m. yesterday during a rainstorm, Ramirez said in a telephone call broadcast last night on state television. Two trucks were using fire-fighting foam to extinguish the second fire, Ramirez said.
“I mean to clarify that it’s not an explosion or a fire at the refinery,” Ramirez said. “It’s a situation at the refinery that happens whenever there are these electrical storms.”
A gas leak at the country’s Amuay refinery, the country’s largest, caused an explosion Aug. 25, engulfing nearby homes and a National Guard post in flames and killing 42 people. Firefighters worked for four days to extinguish flames at storage tanks holding refined products. Nine tanks were damaged.
President Hugo Chavez, who is seeking re-election in October, ordered a probe into the accident and declared three days of mourning.
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