No More Smell of Gas in Havana as Refinery Runs Out of Supply

The chimney of the Ñico López refinery, painted with red and white stripes, was seen on Wednesday to be effectively switched off. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 September 2023 – The operation of the Ñico López refinery in Havana didn’t last for very long after it was switched on last Wednesday after a year out of operation; the refinery has been responsible for the smell of gas across the capital this week. It stopped operating yesterday.

If, on Monday, Cupet, the Cuba Petroleum Union attempted to calm the population – which still has strong memories of the recent Hotel Saratoga explosion and the fire at the supertanker base in Matanzas – by saying that the unpleasant smell was simply the “product of combustion in the plant’s torch”, on Wednesday it put out a further statement in which it said, “On 5 September there weren’t any complaints from the public, which could be a result of the stopping of Plant 1 of the Ñico López refinery, having completed, for the moment, its refinement work.” That is to say, it has no more fuel to refine.

With great fanfare in the official press it appeared that Ñico López was going to be late in shutting down

The chimney, which from the 14ymedio editor’s point of view seems effectively shut down, was shown with some pomp by the refinery itself on 25 August when it expressed that “the symbol was switched on”. A few days later, vice minister Ramiro Valdés supervised the firing up of Ñico López, which, with great fanfare in the official press, seemed to have had its final shutting down delayed.

There is no let up in the shortage of fuel on the island. The country continues to receive petroleum donated principally by Venezuela, which sent 65,000 barrels a day in August (more than the previous month, at 53,000). In filling stations like the ones in Santiago de Cuba, where these days the queues stretch to kilometres long, this increase hasn’t been noticed.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


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