UPDATE 1-Curacao oil refinery down on power outage

Wed Apr 9, 2008 9:02pm IST

(Updates with spokesman, evacuations, background)

WILLEMSTAD, April 9 (Reuters) - A 320,000 barrels per day oil refinery on Curacao, operated by Venezuela's state oil company, went offline on Wednesday due to a power outage, a spokesman said.

Refinery spokesman Kenneth Geisjberta told local radio the situation was serious because power supplier ACUALECTRA had been unable to quickly resolve the problem, which occurred early on Wednesday.

Residents living near the Isla refinery on the Caribbean island close to Venezuela's coast said they saw larger-than-usual plumes of black smoke rising from the refinery, local radio reported.

Some offices in the vicinity were evacuated because of the pall from the refinery, which is just outside Willemstad, the capital, according to the radio.

Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, operates the refinery, which residents have repeatedly said causes environmental damage in the area.

PDVSA has suffered power outages and accidents regularly at its refineries in Venezuela as well as at Isla in the past few years. (Reporting by Irasi Jimenes; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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