An Exhaustive Investigation

Move along folks, nothing to see here

This morning, President Chávez promised an exhaustive investigation into the causes of last night’s fatal blast at Amuay Refinery. The sun hasn’t even set yet, and that investigation is already exhausted: the Paraguana Refining Complex’s Head of Refining has already ruled out deferred maintenance as contributing in any way to the accident. So, it’s good to see nobody is prejudging any outcomes then.

Then, with commendable lack of irony, he boasts of the excellent fire-control system the refinery is “in the process of installing.”

Well, that’s a relief…

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  1. With commendable lack of irony, Francisco Toro criticizes others for prejudging the possible causes of the explosion while he spends the entire day doing that very thing on his blog. Hypocritical much??

    • Causes could be any of many. Responsibility is clear: Chavez/Ramirez right on down through the whole chain of incompetent managers. Houses have smoke detectors. Amuay didn’t even have free-flowing escaped gas detectors (at least, if they did, they weren’t working ).

    • You can only run a very expensive, very complex piece of machinery for so many years on duct tape, jury rigging and good wishes before the whole thing blows up. Trying to produce as much oil while reinvesting as little as possible leaves you with a tragic outcome. The notion that PDVSA could serve as the country’s magical piggy bank quite literally went up in flames at Amuay.

  2. This same exact attitude – as stated in the interview – is what probably caused the explosion.

    Guess the follow up questions becomes … how come you spent all that money you failed to meet your scheduled maintenance, how come un-scheduled stops increased significantly even from your own relaxed standard.

  3. the Paraguana Refining Complex’s Head of Refining has already ruled out deferred maintenance as contributing in any way to the accident.

    And pigs can fly….

  4. Indeed this may not have been the direct result of lack of maintenance. It could also have been Operational or indeed design or maybe all three.

    The information available is limited and always will be.

    If this was a gas leak, massive leak, to the atmosphere followed by an explosion clearly there would be damage but not as violent as that seen from the photographs. That explosion may have set off a second action which brought in to play a pressurised vessel containing gas or condensates. Human intervention could have directly compromised the pressure hydrocarbon vessel. The sequence of events in the first minute is essential to determine the cause.

    However what can be said is that this is not a stand alone gas escape, wind affected spark initiated explosion dissipating it’s energy to the atmosphere. This explosion, from the photographs, is a violent explosion, including a pressure vessel containing hydrocarbons. Flying debris, shrapnel if you like, creating damage well without a directionally driven gas plume. This could result in secondary uncontrolled situations. The RADIUS of damage, 400m., is more than likely a correct assumption. The issue here is not the damage you see but that which cannot be seen on a photo. Days ? Maybe but at 1% capacity. Months ? More than likely.

    And the Head of PDVSA says it’ll be online in a couple of days !!!!! That’s the las thing a man in that position should be saying.

    And if maintenace is the issue, critical issue I mean, Venezuelas’s hydrocarbon industry is buggered well in to the future. No different from the roads, bridges, Conviasa and so on. And I haven’t had my breakfast yet !

  5. An exhaustive investigation, like the one on Simon Bolivar’s dead, pardon, assassination, that is why the “intelligence” is on the boat…
    Safety is mostly cultural, it is the human factor who makes the “accidents”, only a few percent will be a design/technical fault, with all the experience and methods the design is as safe as it can be. Then there could be the lack of maintenance, the late repair/substitute of pieces and systems, the late or absent response to faults, not doing a procedure, etc.
    A safety principle is the transparency and openness, quite the opposite in a military (kind of) government. Only if you feel safe to go forward pointing to safety deficits you would do that. But if you expect punishment you probably will keep quite and “accidents” will happen. That is why normally airline pilots are exempted of legal persecution, to allow them explain if and what did go wrong (and maybe was his fault). I wonder if there has been a “militarization” in PDVSA too. You bet also there were more than one GN at the complex who feel uncomfortable the hours before and said/did nothing.
    But anyway, Chávez would probably announce the investigation was closed despite of not finding the culprit, but he is sure it was El Imperio, he only can’t prove it yet…
    My thoughts, here probably several faults were done, and if some actions would have happened, at least the dead toll would have been at least minor.
    And a last thing, maybe somebody ask the Comandante-Presidente, when will be the investigation of the Conviasa Flight 2350 accident be ready… and what is being done to restore the permits to fly in the EU…


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