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The Amuay refinery complex, which belongs to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, in Punto Fijo, Venezuela, in 2016.Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Production at Venezuela’s largest refinery, which can process about 645,000 barrels of oil a day, was halted late on Saturday by an electrical fault that caused a blackout, according to five people familiar with the matter.

Amuay is the only refinery producing gasoline at the Paraguana Refinery Center after a halt in some operations at the neighbouring Cardon refinery while a reformer fault is fixed.

“Blackout in the Amuay refinery. An electrical problem. Total blackout. In Amuay, the distilling and catalytic plants might be affected, which is currently producing about 80 per cent of the country’s gasoline,” one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

State-owned oil company PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The issues arose from a failure in the power plant that supplies power to both refineries but affects Amuay the most, one of the sources said. While electricity had been restored the halt in processing has not been fixed, the source added.

PDVSA will work to restore electricity to Amuay on Sunday, two of the sources added.

The CRP is located on Venezuela’s northwest coast and is operating far below its capacity of processing 955,000 b/d.

Venezuela’s network of refineries has a production capacity of 1.3 million b/d.

People from nearby communities that depend on electricity generated by the CRP took to social media to report power cuts.

Venezuela faces intermittent gasoline shortages after years of disinvestment and poor maintenance across the state refining network, as well as electrical failures and limits on fuel imports owing to U.S. sanctions seeking to put pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to leave office.

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