Gas pipeline explodes in Venezuela, Oil Minister blames “terrorist attack”
23 March 2021
An explosion occurred on part of a gas pipeline in eastern Venezuela on March 20, according to a report from the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). The country’s Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami blamed the explosion on a “terrorist attack” but did not provide further details.
The incident happened on a 36-inch pipeline at the Pigap II gas reinjection plant in the northern state of Monagas. PDVSA said it had temporarily shut the plant so that a fire could be extinguished and damage could be assessed.
Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami made a statement on state television calling the explosion a “terrorist attack”. El Aissami did not offer any further details about who was responsible and did not say how much damage was done to the Pigap II plant.
Venezuelan officials have frequently labelled incidents as “terrorist attacks” in the past without providing evidence. Critics have said explosions and fires at the country’s oil and gas plants are most likely a result of underinvestment, mismanagement, and a lack of maintenance.
In November 2020, Venezuela continued its crackdown on oil industry critics and whistleblowers in an attempt to block information leaks about PDVSA, the country’s deteriorating oil facilities, and unsafe working conditions.
Eudis Girot, an oil workers’ union leader, and other officials who have been critical of the management of PDVSA, were arrested on November 19. Girot is Executive Director of the National Federation of Oil Unions (FUTPV) and has extensively tweeted about the PDVSA’s numerous failed attempts to restart production at refineries following explosions and fires.
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