March 12, 2012 / 3:30 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Two Venezuelan refineries temporarily shut after system faults

* Cardon refinery shut for 8 hours on air supply fault

* Puerto la Cruz temporarily halted after electrical outage

(Recasts with PDSVA comments)

CARACAS, March 10 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PDVSA said on Saturday its giant Cardon refinery restarted operations after an eight hour stoppage and that an electrical outage had partially halted its Puerto La Cruz refinery.

The temporary shutdown at the 310,000 barrel-per-day Cardon refinery was due to a problem in the air supply system.

Cardon is part of the Paraguana Refining Center (CRP) in Venezuela’s western Falcon state, one of the biggest oil refinery complexes in the world.

“This Friday, at 8:30 p.m. there was failure in the air system at Cardon, which made it necessary to preventively stop various units following security protocol,” PDVSA said in a statement.

Less than eight hours later, the refinery was up and running again and neither incident affected oil supplies, PDVSA said. ` Workers said lagging maintenance at the CRP complex led to the problem.

“This was something we saw coming, the air line has needed maintenance for at least three years,” said Ivan Freites, a union leader at the state oil company PDVSA.

PDVSA has struggled with repeated refinery outages and problems in recent years, affecting its production figures and ability to fulfill ambitious expansion plans. Power faults, accidents and planned stoppages for maintenance have hit exports from South America’s biggest crude producer and OPEC member.

In a separate incident, PDVSA said it was forced to partially shut down the 187,000 barrel-per-day Puerto la Cruz refinery after a power failure.

One distillation unit remained operational and the rest of the plant would restart as soon as the electricity system is stabilized, the company said.

(Reporting by Sailu Urribarri; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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