State firms from Iran and Venezuela will start in the coming weeks a revamp of the South American nation's largest refining complex to restore its crude distillation capacity.
Reuters quoted four sources close to the plan on Friday saying that the effort by state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and the state-owned National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) to boost fuel output at the Paraguana Refining Center marks a step toward ending Venezuela's reliance on US refinery technology.
The two sides are expected to ink in the coming weeks a 460-million-euro contract to overhaul the 955,000-bpd Paraguana refinery complex on the coast of western Venezuela.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian arrived in Caracas on Friday and met Venezuela's oil minister Tareck El Aissami.
Venezuela, which has the world's largest crude reserves, has struggled in recent years to produce enough gasoline and diesel due to refinery outages, a lack of investment and US sanctions.
At least 400 Iranian workers will work alongside between 1,000 and 1,500 local staff and contractors in this project, the sources said.
Venezuelan officials are responsible to find temporary housing and vehicles for the workers, including the possibility of building a camp close to Paraguana.
The Islamic Republic has boosted relations with Venezuela in recent years, providing crude and condensate as well as parts and feedstock for Venezuela's aging 1.3 million barrel per day oil refining network.