July 17, 2006 CARACAS, Venezuela – A fire broke out early Monday at a major oil refinery in western Venezuela, a state oil company official said. Officials were still gathering information about the fire at the 635,000 barrel-a-day Amuay refinery, and no further details were immediately available, a spokeswoman from Petroleos de Venezuela SA said.
Union Radio reported the fire was large and began in the refinery’s distillation plant. It said the site has been evacuated and that access was being blocked by security personnel.
The Amuay refinery — part of Venezuela’s giant Paraguana complex — has suffered a series of problems in recent months, including a fire in March that killed one and injured four.
Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter and is consistently among the top five suppliers of crude to the United States.