PDVSA Contract Worker Dead, 9th Fatality Since November

A worker from a firm contracted by Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA died Saturday as a result of injuries sustained when he fell from a platform while carrying out maintenance works at the Amuay refinery on March 29, PDVSA said in a press release.

The victim was Johan Briceno of the Conarmetal co-op.

Briceno is the ninth fatality since November. Two workers died as a result of an explosion, also at Amuay, on March 14. Another PDVSA worker died in eastern Venezuela's Budare oilfield in early March. In November 2005, a similar incident in Cardon, another of the CRP refineries, resulted in the death of five workers, while another 15 sustained serious injuries.

Conarmetal offers services in the welding, tank construction and structural maintenance areas. Most of the previous fatalities are also workers from co-ops with little or no experience in oil and/or formal education.

PDVSA has admitted to a lack of qualified workers. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez ordered 20,000 workers fired after the 2002-2003 oil strike, labelling them "saboteurs."

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