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Lightning causes Venezuela refinery fire

21 September 2012

Two naphtha storage tanks at Venezuela's El Palito refinery caught fire on September 19 after the facility was struck by lightning during a storm, according to Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez. There are no reports of casualties.

"We've been able to extinguish the fire in one of the tanks, and we're working to put out the fire in the other tank," Ramirez told state television.

The incident comes less than a month after an explosion killed more than 40 people at the country’s Amuay refinery.The incident raised questions over whether the government is investing enough to properly maintain its refineries.

In its annual report released in March, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA) listed El Palito, which is located in Carabobo state in north central Venezuela, as one of its production facilities most prone to accidents. The company plans to double refining capacity at the facility over the next four years.

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