Armed Militants Attack Main Government Gas Plant

Operations at one of the state’s principal gas and oil production plants in Eastern Venezuela are up and running again after an attack by armed militants left installations temporarily out of action over the weekend.

By Rachael Boothroyd

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The El Tejero plant is the country’s main source of gas (abrebrecha)
The El Tejero plant is the country’s main source of gas (abrebrecha)
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Caracas, March 31 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) Operations at one of the state’s principal gas and oil production plants in Eastern Venezuela are up and running again after an attack by armed militants left installations temporarily out of action over the weekend. 

According to reports, an armed group stormed the Monagas based plant El Tejero in the early hours of Friday morning, subduing production operators and breaking down the plant’s principle doors. The attackers proceeded to cut supply cables to the principle crude oil pump, cutting off 80,000 barrels of oil and 1200 million cubic feet of gas. 

Further damage was only averted by workers at the plant, who managed to activate a contingency plan and rehabilitate the pump in “record time,” according to state oil company PDVSA. 

“Given that this is the most important source of gas in the country, it could have had a serious impact on electricity and gas production,” read an official statement released by the company over the weekend. 

On the same day, oil workers from Monagas staged a march in the Eastern city of Maturin, rejecting the Executive Order released by the Obama administration earlier in March which brands Venezuela a “national security threat”. 

The workers also collected signatures for the national petition which has witnessed over 5 million Venezuelans coming together to demand that the White House revoke its designation against Venezuela. 

“It’s important to point out the historic role that oil workers have played in our revolutionary struggles,” stated Jesus Farias from the march, a leading militant in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in Monagas. 

So far, the government has not released the details of any arrests made in connection with Friday’s attack, but PDVSA has confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the incident, which it described as an act of “sabotage”. 

“We do not hesitate to call this an act of terrorism against our industry,” continues the statement, before confirming that appropriate measures would be taken in order to prevent the attack from happening again.  

Soldiers from the Bolivarian National Armed Guard have also been present at the plant since the weekend in a bid to protect workers and machinery. 

Although there is little information regarding the motivation behind Friday’s incident, it comes on the back of two years of sustained violent attacks against government services and public institutions which have been attributed to rightwing groups. 

The latest was earlier in March, when hooded militants attempted to set fire to a state run university in Tachira state.