Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA has started operations at the Morón compression plant in Carabobo state, advancing construction of the ICO pipeline, the company said in a statement.
Construction of the pipeline is now 80% complete. The existing 94km section that runs from Río Seco to El Manglar in Falcón state is sending the Paraguana refining complex 7Mf3/d (198,200m3/d) of natural gas.
The pipeline, which runs through states including Carabobo, Yaracuy, Guárico, Aragua and Falcón, was designed to transport natural gas from the country's east to the west. When two additional compression plants come online in 2009, the pipeline's capacity will reach 520Mf3/d.
The Altagracia de Orituco compression plant could come online in January 2009 and the Villa de Cura compression plant will follow in August, PDVSA said.
The Paraguana refinery complex faces a natural gas deficit and is burning more expensive fuel oil as a result.