Iran signs 110 million euro contract to repair Venezuelan refinery

CARACAS, May 13 (Reuters) – State-owned National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Company has signed a 110 million euro contract to repair and restart Venezuela’s smallest refinery, El Palito, with a capacity of 146 000 barrels per day, the official Iranian news agency IRNA announced on Friday.

The deal follows negotiations led by Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji, who visited Venezuela earlier this month and met with President Nicolas Maduro.

As Owji was meeting Maduro and his counterpart, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, in Caracas, two supertankers arrived in Venezuelan waters carrying Iranian crude and condensate. The South American nation is trying to boost crude exports and fuel production.

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A Venezuelan-owned vessel that was loaded off the Maldives also brought Iranian condensate to supply refineries. Read more

Owji was accompanied by the Iranian deputy minister and the CEO of the National Iranian Oil and Distribution Company (NIORDC), the parent company of the National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Company, IRNA said.

The contract includes repairs, commissioning and completion at El Palito, said Farhad Ahmadi, director general of NIORDC. The refinery is currently operating at about half capacity after restarting a crude distillation unit earlier this month.

“The project will be funded by Naftiran Intertrade Company,” Ahmadi added, according to the IRNA report. Crude to power El Palito will also be supplied by Naftiran.

Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and the Venezuelan oil ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Venezuela began importing Iranian heavy crude this month, supplied by Naftiran, according to documents from PDVSA, which owns and operates El Palito.

The deal expands on a previous swap deal signed last year by U.S.-sanctioned countries to swap Iranian condensate for Venezuelan heavy crude.

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Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Mircely Guanipa; written by Marianna Parraga; edited by Gary McWilliams

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