By Les Blough in Venezuela. Axis of Logic
Venezuela's national petroleum company, PDVSA, has demonstrated their expertise in bringing the Amuay Plant back to into production in only 6 days following the destruction of 9 refinery tanks last Saturday. PDVSA's remarkable feat speaks against all those claims of the government's poor maintenance and inefficiency. The BBC however (article below), repeats the lame accusation of "critics" who "have accused PDVSA of neglecting maintenance as it funnels oil revenue into social programs run by President Hugo Chavez' government." Certainly the UK government cannot be accused of investing corporate profits into social programs! The BBC's actual beef is that the Venezuelan government is not funneling money into the profits of transnational corporations, putting capitalist governments to shame for their neglect of the people they are responsible to serve.
The BBC also is clever with their statement: "The cause of the blast is unclear, but officials have pointed to a gas leak." What they omit is that the gas leak itself is highly suspect, pointing to sabotage. On this point, President Chavez stated:
“You can’t exclude any hypothesis … It’s practically impossible that here in an [oil] installation like this which is fully automated everywhere and that has thousands of responsible workers night and day, civilian and military, and that there is a gas leak for 3 or 4 days and nobody responds. This is impossible.”
Let's be clear. When President Chavez notes that the installation "is fully automated" one of the things he's talking about is a highly sophisticated, multi-million dollar alarm system which alerts everyone in the vicinity of the smallest gas leak. No alarms were activated at the Amuay Plant when the refinery blew up under cover of darkness last Saturday morning.
In his analysis, Venezuela’s Oil Refinery Blaze: Seven Good Reasons to Suspect Sabotage, James Petras reminds us that, "The US targeting of the oil industry [in 2002-2003] involved sabotage of the computerized system and efforts to degrade the refineries." He added, "No doubt the opposition includes employees, engineers and others with security clearance and access to the petroleum industry." Petras is correct. There is in fact no doubt that members of the opposition are among some 18,000 thousand Venezuelans working for PDVSA, desperate in the face of another landslide victory by President Chavez on October 7.
The opposition and western media presented not a shred of evidence of government neglect and faulty safety procedures when they quickly blamed the government for the Amuay explosion.
If this was a terrorist attack, killing 48 innocent people, the perpetrators surely wanted the government and the Venezuelan people to panic and react hastily. If Amuay was attacked, the perps also hoped to take the wind out of the sails of the Bolivarian Revolution. On both counts, they have been disappointed. Instead, the government was careful with it's response, initiating a patient, in-depth investigation by intelligence services which has not yet been completed. The Venezuelan people have likewise been patient with a "wait and see" attitude. And the enormous turnout for President Chavez address to the nation last night showed a president more centered and powerful than ever and a people more committed and energized than I've seen them since the failed April 2002 coup.
"Yet there are strong reasons to reject these self-serving accusations and to formulate a more plausible hypothesis, namely that the explosion was an act of sabotage, planned and executed by a clandestine group of terrorist specialists acting on behalf of the US government. There are powerful arguments to sustain and pursue this line of inquiry."
Our research clearly points to an attack on the refinery, all of which has been published on Axis of Logic for readers to evaluate and judge for themselves. While no material evidence has emerged to date, government intelligence services will reveal its findings when their investigation has been completed. If evidence of sabotage is discovered, there will be little doubt that the attack will have been initiated if not executed directly by foreign elements. Whatever the results, they will be featured on Axis of Logic when their investigation has been completed.
Finally, if the Amuay refinery explosion proves to have been an act of terrorism, it will contrast as never before the high moral ground of the democratic and peaceful political revolution in Venezuela against the immorality, violence and desperation of an empire that has lost it's balance, legs crumbling beneath it.
- Les Blough in Venezuela
September 1, 2012
Venezuela's Amuay oil refinery reopens after fire
Venezuela's largest oil refinery has resumed production after a massive blast killed 42 (sic) people last week, state oil company PDVSA says.
Last Saturday's explosion at the Amuay refinery in the west of the country set oil tanks on fire for days.
The cause of the blast is unclear, but officials have pointed to a gas leak.
Critics have accused PDVSA of neglecting maintenance as it funnels oil revenue into social programmes run by President Hugo Chavez' government.
"Operational activities have resumed safely and gradually" at Amuay, a company spokesman said on Friday.
Two production units with a combined capacity of 160,000 barrels of oil per day are now back up and running, with a third due to restart soon, PDVSA said.
The Amuay refinery, which is part of the Paraguana Refinery Complex, is capable of refining 645,000 bpd.
President Hugo Chavez, who has promised a $23m (£14.5m) fund for clean-up operations, has said there is no evidence the explosion was the result of poor maintenance.
But his main rival in October's presidential election, Henrique Capriles, and other critics have said government inefficiency and under-investment under Mr Chavez have led to a decline in safety standards.
In its latest statement, the company said 42 people had been killed. Earlier reports had put the death toll at 48.
Half of those who died in the incident were members of the National Guard who were protecting the refinery.