By Jens Erik Gould
Daily Journal Staff
Sept 8, 2005
This is part of a series of re-published articles I wrote in 2005 for the Daily Journal in Caracas
Energy and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Thursday that it will take several weeks to assess Hurricane Katrina-related damage at state-run Petroleos de Venezuela's (PDVSA) joint-venture refinery in Chalmette, Louisiana, and that operations at the plant would likely be normal by December.
It's too early to give a date for when Chalmette will be operating, Ramirez said at a press conference. "In a week we will know more or less how the things are there—at least we'll have a first impression—I think that we'll be completely normalized around December."
Ramirez said that PDVSA was in the process of determining what to do with heavy crude exploited from the Cerro Negro field in the heavy oil belt, which is normally processed at Chalmette.
ExxonMobil, which owns Chalmette with PDVSA, said that a team was on the ground to assess the plant and that a specific timeframe could not be given until the damage was evaluated, the oil publication Platts reported on Thursday.
The town of Chalmette is only two miles outside of New Orleans and is faced with devastation and heavy flooding much like the city itself. Ramirez said that the refinery had no electricity and that the companies still needed to locate many displaced employees.
The Chalmette refinery has a normal production of 187,000 barrels per day (bpd).
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JENS ERIK GOULD
Jens Erik Gould is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News.