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Venezuela’s August oil exports slump 38% as crude upgrading falls short – Reuters

An oil tanker is seen at Jose refinery cargo terminal in Venezuela in this undated file photo.
An oil tanker is seen at Jose refinery cargo terminal in Venezuela in this undated file photo. (Reuters)

Marianna Parraga and Mircely Guanipa, Reuters

EnergiesNet.com 09 05 2023

Venezuela’s oil exports in August fell 38% from a three-year high in July as state-run oil company PDVSA struggled to keep its heavy crude upgraders in service, according to vessel monitoring data and internal company documents.

The South American country overall has slightly boosted oil production and exports this year, helped by fewer outages and higher output by Chevron (CVX.N) under a U.S. license received in November.

But PDVSA’s lack of capital, U.S. sanctions since 2019 and poorly maintained infrastructure, including the upgraders the company uses to convert its extra heavy oil to exportable grades, put limits to what it can do to sustain the increases.

Venezuela’s oil exports in August dropped to about 544,000 barrels per day (bpd) from more than 877,000 bpd in July, according to LSEG Eikon vessel tracking data.

China remained the main destination for most of the OPEC member’s crude and fuel exports, including cargoes transshipped through Malaysia.

Chevron shipped some 147,000 bpd of crude to its refineries and to other U.S. buyers, below the 161,000 bpd exported in July.

Venezuela also exported some 214,000 tons of oil byproducts and petrochemicals, down from 412,000 tons in July, the data showed.

The two crude blending units of the project at Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt, operated by PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), suffered outages that halted them last month. One resumed operations on Aug. 16, an internal PDVSA document showed.

At the Petropiar crude upgrader, operated by PDVSA and Chevron and that processes extra heavy oil, maintenance affected a vacuum distillation unit. The facility fully resumed operations on Aug. 9, processing some 110,000 bpd since then.

The Petromonagas upgrader operated by PDVSA and Russia’s Roszarubezhneft ran out of diluents, which took it out of service last month. A fourth Orinoco upgrading facility, Petrocedeno, reduced crude processing due to problems with a boiler, the document showed.

However, PDVSA said on social media this week it was increasing output of its lighter crude grades. Venezuela produced a total of 810,000 bpd of crude in July, an 11% increase from January, according to official data.

PDVSA boosted shipments of crude, fuel oil, gasoline blend stock and gas oil to ally Cuba to some 65,000 bpd, from 53,000 bpd in July.

Venezuela also imported some 800,000 barrels of naphtha in August, including a cargo supplied by Chevron to its joint ventures and another provided by Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) as part of an expanded oil swap.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela Editing by Marguerita Choy

reuters.com 09 04 2023

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