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PDVSA Working to Extinguish Fire at El Palito Naphtha Tank

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Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, is working to extinguish a naphtha tank fire at its El Palito refinery after putting out another blaze at a separate tank, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

The fires were triggered by lightning that struck a seal on the tanks at 7:30 p.m. yesterday during a rainstorm, Ramirez said in a telephone call broadcast on state television. Trucks are using foam to extinguish the second fire, he said late yesterday.

“We put out one of the fires last night and are continuing to fight the second fire,” Asdrubal Chavez, PDVSA’s vice president of refining, said on state television today. “It is totally controlled and should be put out in the coming hours.”

Production wasn’t affected at the refinery in Carabobo state and the fires won’t cause any domestic fuel shortages, Chavez said. The refinery is operating normally and processing 135,000 barrels a day of crude, he said.

“Fuel inventories for Venezuela are completely normal,” said Chavez. “We have a supply to last 10 to 12 days, which is the usual level.”

A gas leak at the Amuay refinery in western Venezuela, 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.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net; Nathan Crooks in Caracas at ncrooks@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net

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