News | June 18, 1999

Construction Resumes at Venezuelan Oil Refinery

Construction work at Venezuela's largest oil refining complex resumed Thursday after President Hugo Chavez dispatched 200 National Guardsmen to control labor unrest. Three construction projects were suspended on Tuesday after industry officials said they could no longer guarantee employees' safety in the face of protests by unions and unemployed workers demanding payment of salaries and re-hiring of laid-off employees.

Protesters blocked the entrance to the complex in eastern Venezuela, detained oil company executives and seized trucks that transport liquid gas. Oil company officials determined Thursday that the government's moves to protect the complex permitted work to resume.

The projects involve Venezuela's state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, Conoco and Mobil of the U.S., France's Total, Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro, and Germany's Veba Oel. The complex employs more than 22,000 people.