Operations at the active crude distillation units at the Cardon refinery in Venezuela were halted after a fire broke out early Friday (22 March), injuring two workers, reported Reuters, citing sources.  

Sources close to the refinery operations reported that the fire began around 5am local time following a loud explosion and was extinguished a couple of hours later. 

The cause of the incident was identified as a gasoline leak, according to the sources.  

The blaze spread to a power substation within the complex, resulting in a power outage and the subsequent shutdown of three distillation units that were in service, they added. 

One of the injured workers sustained minor burns to his arm, while the other was hospitalised for burns to his hair and face.  

“(The leak) occurred after four in the morning and was reported immediately. The firefighters arrived to control it. The staff proceeded to shut down the plant and, while the plant was being stopped (…) the fire broke,” one of the sources was quoted by the publication as saying. 

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Operators at the refining complex were attempting to resume operations on Friday at two of Cardon’s distillation units, the source said. 

With a capacity of 310,000bpd, Cardon is a key part of the Paraguana refining centre, also known as Centro de Refinación Paraguaná, which is among the largest refinery complexes globally.  

It also includes the Amuay refineries on the Paraguana peninsula and the Bajo Grande refinery in Venezuela’s Zulia state. 

In separate news from the Venezuelan oil and gas sector, energy company BP is engaged in discussions with the governments of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago over the development of the shared offshore gas field Manakin-Cocuina.  

Located along the maritime border of the two countries, the field is estimated to contain more than one trillion cubic feet of natural gas.