By Francisco Chirinos.
Workers at the El Palito refinery in the state of Carabobo tried to raise the current gasoline production to 40,000 barrels per day but a vibration in the catalytic cracking plant (FCC) made them fear that the plant would collapse as it did last April.
Workers at the Venezuelan refinery revealed the information to El Pitazo. They added that, given the risk of the FCC plant collapsing again, they desisted from increasing current production, which remains at 37,000 barrels per day. “The vibration was thunderous, at times, we thought the plant would come to a complete standstill,” said one of the oil workers.
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The lack of maintenance in the last 15 years caused some parts of the structure to be damaged. The workers assure that they are trying to solve the situation, but it has to be done little by little, without forcing the bar, otherwise what happened in April might happen again.
In fact, on April 10, the workers managed to start up the El Palito refinery, but the FCC plant began to vibrate until it collapsed, which led to a plant shutdown to repair it.
In May last year, the catalytic cracking plant began operating again at half-speed, producing 30,000 barrels of gasoline per day instead of the 81,000 barrels it should be producing, said the oil workers. The other 7,000 barrels producing by the old plant that existed before the FCC built.
Water needed for refining arrives in tanks
According to the workers, one of the deficiencies in the optimal functioning of the refinery is the lack of water, shortages cause failures in the cooling towers and therefore prevent an increase in production. The water needed for the plant to operate is supplied by tanker trucks from the Carabobo’s Governor Office.
In the past, El Palito used water from the Sanchon river, which flows into the sea in the vicinity of its facilities, but the expansion of the refinery made this tributary became insufficient, so PDVSA built a pipeline more than 30 kilometers long to bring water to El Palito from the Aroa river, located in Falcon state.
Now it is tanker trucks from the Carabobo government that supply the water needed for the refining operations, confirmed the oil workers. “That’s not the solution, it’s just a palliative,” they stressed.