Petroleos de Venezuela SA, South America's largest oil company, said a fire at its Cardon refinery in the northwestern state of Falcon was extinguished late yesterday.
The fire broke out in the refinery's No. 2 alkylation unit, according to a company spokesman in Caracas. The unit, which was being started after planned maintenance, makes components for high octane gasoline.
Production at the refinery was unaffected, the spokesman said. Alejandro Granado, vice president for refining, was at the refinery reviewing damage, the spokesman said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, the spokesman said.
Former managers of Petroleos de Venezuela have repeatedly claimed that accidents at the refineries are due to having inexperienced managers in place. Petroleos de Venezuela fired about 40 percent of the complex's workforce of 3,600 in 2003 to break a two-month nationwide strike.
The two refineries have been hit by four fires since November, disrupting operations.
Cardon and its sister Amuay refinery make up the Paraguana refinery complex, the world's largest, with a production capacity of 935,000 barrels a day. The pair are currently processing 767,000 barrels a day.
By Peter Wilson