Venezuela Isn’t Importing Gasoline, Oil Minister Says

Venezuela is not importing gasoline, and the country’s refineries are in “perfect” condition, state radio station RNV reported on its website today, citing oil minister Rafael Ramirez.

The South American country, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, imports gasoline additives to comply with environmental regulations, said Ramirez, who is also president of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, known as PDVSA.

“The old PDVSA used to send out gasoline with lead, because it was more economical,” RNV quoted Ramirez as saying. “We changed that policy and are bringing in additives for green gasoline and increasing our capacity.”

The U.S. exported 83,000 barrels a day of oil products to Venezuela in October last year, including 39,000 barrels a day of finished motor gasoline and 15,000 barrels a day of the additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. exports of oil products to Venezuela surged to a record 196,000 barrels a day in September after an Aug. 25 explosion at the Amuay refinery, the country’s largest, killed more than 40 people and took processing capacity offline.

Ramirez said Nov. 7 that Amuay was processing about 400,000 barrels a day and has not provided new production data since. The refinery has installed capacity to process 645,000 barrels a day of oil.

The refining industry’s contribution to Venezuela’s gross domestic product fell 0.8 percent last year, as the Amuay accident temporarily paralyzed half of the country’s refining capacity, the Central Bank said last month in its end-of-year report.

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