Mérida, October 29, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned a ‘terrorist attack’ against the country’s largest refinery.
During an international press conference in Miraflores Palace on Wednesday, Maduro detailed that “high potency weaponry” was used to blow up a tower in the Amuay refinery, in Falcon State, the day before.
He added that Venezuela faces permanent plots against its refineries and infrastructure “backed, financed and promoted by the US government.”
On Thursday, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami reported that preliminary findings pointed towards a missile fired from a drone or a ship. He added that a commission was set up to further investigate.
“Investigations have determined a very strong explosion caused by a missile. We are investigating the source of this terrorist attack,” he told reporters. El Aissami denounced repeated attacks against the oil industry as well as electricity infrastructure in Falcon State.
Although the explosion caused no injuries it means yet another setback to the distillation unit which is currently inactive whilst workers try to restart output. Preliminary reports revealed that the exploded tower may be unrecoverable and may have to be completely rebuilt.
Amuay has a 645,000 barrel per day (bpd) processing capacity, and together with the 310,000 bpd Cardon refinery forms the Paraguana Refining Complex, the second largest in the world.
The South American nation has faced severe gasoline shortages in recent months and been forced to import fuel from Iran. With sanctions heavily affecting Venezuela’s oil sector, Tehran has also assisted Caracas in reactivating the refining industry. The El Palito and Cardon refineries have been working intermittently in recent months, with technical problems forcing repeated stoppages.
The Venezuelan president also informed that on October 26 two foreign men were apprehended in Zulia state. He claimed that they had links to “extremist groups” and “planned to kill leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution.” No further details, including their names, were revealed.
Maduro likewise recalled that in September Venezuelan security forces arrested Matthew John Heath, a former US marine, near the Paraguana Refining Complex, Heath and three Venezuelan men were captured with weapons and large amounts of US dollars.
Edited and with additional reporting by Ricardo Vaz from Merida.