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Venezuela fire sparks energy concerns

Aug. 28, 2012 at 8:02 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- An energy market analyst said it may take longer than Venezuela expects before its fire-ravaged Amuay refinery is back online.

Firefighters in Venezuela Tuesday marked their fourth day of response to a fire at the Amuary refinery, the largest in the country. The government said there was no damage to the refinery's processing units and exports weren't affected.

Four dozen people were killed and 200 houses in the area were damaged by the explosion and fire that hit the refinery Saturday.

Bloomberg News reports that gasoline on the New York Stock Exchange traded at a four-month high in part because of the Venezuela refinery fire and concerns over Tropical Storm Isaac.

The news agency quotes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as saying firefighters were making good progress in controlling the refinery blaze. The government said it expects production to resume two days after fires are extinguished at the refinery.

Lipow Oil Associates President Andy Lipow told Bloomberg it may take longer than the government says, however.

"I think it concerns the market that it could take a long time given that it's their largest refining complex," he said.

The country's energy minister said other refineries are producing around 735,000 barrels of fuel per day and there are 4 million barrels of gasoline on hand in storage. State-owned energy company Petroleos de Venezuela has 10 days of inventory ready for domestic and foreign supply obligations.

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