Firefighters have fully extinguished the blaze that engulfed a naphtha storage tank at Venezuela’s El Palito refinery, state oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, said Saturday.
Two tanks, each with capacity to hold more than 170,000 barrels of naphtha, caught fire Wednesday night after the compound was struck by lightning, authorities said. Firefighters were able to put out flames at one of the tanks that night.
PdVSA officials said crude processing at El Palito was never halted and that operations continued normally throughout the ordeal. They had initially said they would be able to put out the fire within a day but the efforts to smother the blaze continued until late Friday, the company said.
El Palito was the latest incident to hit Venezuela’s state-controlled oil industry, which has been marred by frequent accidents and mishaps in recent years. An Aug. 25 gas-leak explosion at the country’s largest refinery, Amuay, killed more than 40 people and raised questions over the adequacy of the government’s maintenance procedures at production plants.
In an annual report released in March, PdVSA listed El Palito as one of its production facilities most prone to accidents, which have posed a challenge for the company in recent years.