(EnergyAsia, December 23 2014, Tuesday) — China’s Wison Engineering Services Co Ltd said a subsidiary has agreed to take a 10.33% stake in a US$4.837-billion contract to upgrade and expand the ageing 190,000 b/d Puerto La Cruz refinery on the east coast of Venezuela.

State energy firm PDVSA had earlier awarded the contract to the consortium comprising South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd (72%) and Hyundai Engineering Co Ltd (18%), and Wison Engineering Ltd to provide procurement, construction, pre-commissioning and commissioning assistance services for the plant’s core process units, utility and offsite facilities.

The Shanghai-based firm said it expects the consortium to complete the project within 47 months of construction start-up next February. The project has been delayed a number of times in the past due largely to worries over PDVSA’s ability to raise funds.

Despite having the world’s largest crude oil reserves, Venezuela desperately needs a new refinery to to reduce its growing dependence on imported fuel.

The Puerto La Cruz refinery, one of Venezuela’s largest, suffered a major explosion in 2012 that killed 55 people. It has been operating below capacity for years and has been repeatedly damaged by fire, accidents and industrial unrest.