HOUSTON --- Power supply to CITGO’s Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex is being re-established progressively this week, and the re-start of the first boiler unit – a key step of the start up sequence -- is expected on Wednesday, Oct. 5th. Hurricane Rita forced a complete shut down of the refinery on Sept. 23rd.
“After almost two weeks of very hard work by our employees and contractors in difficult conditions, this is very welcome news,” said Félix Rodríguez, president and CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation.
“Currently, there are 515 CITGO and 865 contract employees on site working to restore operations. Since homes in the area were severely impacted by the storm, we have commissioned 500 trailers and a tent city to provide housing for employees and contractors and have contracted food services to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner at the facility.
“We have also been working closely with local authorities, providing fuel for police, fire department and other vehicles from the cities of Lake Charles, Sulphur and Calcasieu Parish. Additionally, we have offered other forms of assistance, including 18 large power generators, medical supplies, bottled water and canned food.”
Due to the shutdown of the Lake Charles refinery, CITGO has invoked force majeure for some products, including jet fuel and diesel. CITGO’s gasoline customers have been placed on daily allocations in an effort to distribute the product as evenly as possible.
“In view of the circumstances, it was our obligation to declare force majeure. At the same time, we have continued to work hard to supply the market, attempting to make alternative arrangements to provide additional product while our refinery is down, thus reassuring our customers and fighting price speculation,” Rodríguez noted.
Force majeure suspends the obligation to perform while the force majeure event is ongoing. In the petroleum industry, acts of God, accidents or equipment failures, among other things, are considered force majeure events.
Part of the efforts being made by CITGO to supply customers includes distributing gasoline cargoes from Venezuela that otherwise would not have been available to U.S. consumers. CITGO’s ultimate parent company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., has pledged one million barrels of gasoline to help alleviate shortages in the U.S. marketplace.
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, refined waxes, asphalt and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.