Blackout hits Venezuelan oil states, Caracas

Blackout hits Venezuelan oil states, Caracas
# 08 April 2011 02:40 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Blackouts hit several Venezuelan regions and halted the Caracas metro on Thursday in a growing headache for President Hugo Chavez just months after electricity rationing hit his popularity, APA reports quoting website.
State television said electricity was off in at least six states, with commuters flooding the streets of the capital after the metro ground to a halt at the start of the evening rush hour. Many traffic lights went out across the city.
The country’s main refineries were operating normally, state oil company PDVSA and a union said.
"We are confident services will be re-established very quickly," Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez told state television. He said the outages were caused by the failure of an 800 KW cable, affecting 6,000 MW of capacity.
Just last week, outages swept across Venezuela, plunging a number of states into darkness and causing intermittent problems on the metro, which carries some 2 million people a day.
Throughout 2010, Venezuelans were subjected to strict electricity and water rationing blamed by the government on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Combined with an economic slump, the problems with utilities pushed Chavez’s popularity ratings down.
Rainfall and heavy investment in new oil-fired power stations helped overcome the crisis ahead of parliamentary elections in September. But experts warned the national grid was still running close to capacity.
Chavez declared a national emergency last year but canceled a plan to ration electricity in Caracas after a chaotic first day of cuts left poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods in the dark and workers stuck in elevators.
The socialist president who was first elected in 1998 and draws his support largely from working class Venezuelans is preparing a re-election bid in December 2012.
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