Firefighters managed to extinguish one of three burning storage tanks at Venezuela's biggest refinery on Tuesday, President Hugo Chavezsaid, in line with the authorities' target to restart the facility by the end of the week.
Chavez broke the news in a series of pre-dawn Tweets, saying the fire at one tank at the Amuay refinery had been put out, while the intensity of the blaze in one of the other two had fallen by 75 percent.
"We continue battling with our heroic firefighters from (state oil company) PDVSA," he said, adding that he was talking by telephone with Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez at the scene.
"With God's help, we will succeed!"
Ramirez told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Monday that the 645,000 barrel-per-day facility could restart operations on Friday, and that the three burning tanks would be extinguished within two days.
An explosion on Saturday at Amuay killed 48 people and pushed up U.S. fuel prices in markets that were already bullish because of a threat that Tropical Storm Isaac could disrupt refinery operations on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Ramirez said Venezuela currently had no plans to import fuel, and that the rise in U.S. gasoline prices would not last.
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