Carlos Camacho, Argus Media
EnergiesNet.com 03 0-3 2023
Venezuela has turned to importing naphtha from the US to upgrade its heavy crude since December, as recorded condensate shipments from Iran for the same purpose have fallen from year-earlier levels.
US major Chevron has shipped about 1.57mn bl of naphtha from Galena Park near Houston, Texas, to Venezuela’s Jose port in Anzoategui, since December, based on data from oil analytics firm Vortexa. Such shipments were not allowed prior to the lifting of some US sanctions in November.
In January a tanker from Iran offloaded about 440,000 bl of South Pars condensate, the only cargo so far this year and down from 2mn bl in January 2022.
Chevron, the only US company that could import the material under sanction rules of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac), is sending the naphtha to help increase crude production through its joint ventures with state-owned PdV. Chevron would not be able to use Iranian condensate in its Venezuela operations because of Ofac rules regarding Iranian products.
Chevron is producing “probably above” 90,000 b/d in Venezuela now, company officials said during a presentation to investors yesterday. Independent estimates and in-country sources have pegged Chevron’s output at about 100,000 b/d, with aims to increase up to 200,000 b/d this year.
Iran sent roughly 8mn bl of condensate to Venezuela in 2022, in four shipments. The two countries signed a 20-year energy cooperation agreement in June 2022. The Iranian condensate has been key to boosting declining Venezuelan production.
Both chemicals are used in the transporting and upgrading of Orinoco extra heavy crude.
argusmedia, 03 02 2023