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UPDATE 1-Venezuela restarts crude blending after gas supply outage

(Updates to add detail of restart of second plant)

May 24 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA has restarted crude blending at its Sinovensa and Petropiar plants after a gas supply outage to the Jose oil export terminal halted operations last week, according to a document seen by Reuters on Monday.

The resumption comes as a very large crude carrier (VLCC) set sail after delays loading at Jose and a second VLCC prepared to leave, partly alleviating a bottleneck of vessels that had built up due to the gas outage, low inventories and quality issues, the internal PDVSA document showed.

Both supertankers are carrying crude cargoes bound for Asia and a third vessel of the same size is set to depart by the end of the month to cover a similar route.

As of May 23, Petrolera Sinovensa’s blending plants, operated by a joint venture between PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corp for converting extra-heavy crude from Venezuela’s Orinoco oil belt into exportable Merey crude, were processing 139,000 barrels per day, the document showed.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Petropiar crude upgrader, a facility near Jose that is part of a joint venture between PDVSA and Chevron Corp and which also halted output last week due to the gas outage, also restarted on Monday, according to a separate document seen by Reuters and a person familiar with the matter.

The temporary gas outage at Jose resulted from a fire at PDVSA’s Amana Operating Center (COA) in eastern Monagas state that authorities blamed on lightning. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by David Clarke)

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