Business, Finance & Economics

Venezuela refinery fire extinguished

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View of the devastation caused by a blaze in the Amuay oil refinery on August 28, 2012 in northern Venezuela.

The Amuay refinery in northern Venezuela could reopen Thursday after firefighters extinguished the blaze that has been raging for more than three days after a deadly explosion, the Associated Press reported.

Fires burning in three fuel tanks were extinguished earlier today.

The blast at the country’s largest oil refinery on Saturday killed 48 people and injured more than 150.

The force of the explosion – believed to have been caused by a gas leak – shattered windows, flattened houses and left streets strewn with rubble.

Reuters reported it was the world’s deadliest refinery accident in 15 years.

The exact cause of the blast is still under investigation.

Officials have said they expect to reopen the state-owned, 645,000-barrels-per-day refinery within two days of the fires being extinguished, though experts believe it could take longer.

“It’s probably going to be far longer than their public statements given the track record we’ve seen of maintenance at PDVSA facilities over the last couple of years,” Andy Lipow, president of Houston-based Lipow Oil Associates LLC, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

“I think it concerns the market that it could take a long time given that it’s their largest refining complex.”

The government has said damage caused by the explosion was limited to the storage tanks, and that Venezuela had enough gasoline inventories to meet its international and domestic commitments.

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