February 20, 2019 / 3:24 AM / a year ago

Fire hits PDVSA pumping station, disrupting Venezuela crude transport

CARACAS, Feb 19 (Reuters) - A fire hit a crude oil pumping station in Venezuela’s Orinoco belt region on Tuesday, state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) said, disrupting crude transportation as the cash-strapped firm struggles with the impact of U.S. sanctions.

The fire at the Ero pumping station, which has the capacity to transport 300,000 barrels per day of crude, was controlled and no one was injured, the company said in a statement. But the incident will affect transport of crude through pipelines, a source at the company said, without providing further details.

The incident comes weeks after the United States slapped sanctions on PDVSA to try to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power. Venezuela, a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), holds the world’s largest crude reserves, but production has collapsed amid mismanagement and an economic crisis.

In the statement, PDVSA said the fire was caused by “an act of sabotage perpetrated by the right-wing opposition.”

PDVSA said the Ero station receives crude from its Petrocarabobo oilfield, a joint venture with Spain’s Repsol , and from its Petroindependencia joint venture, which is 34 percent owned by Chevron.

PDVSA’s facilities for producing, refining and transporting oil and fuel often experience outages due to a lack of spare parts and delayed maintenance following years of underinvestment. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Fabian Cambero; writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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