According to internal documents and data from Refinitiv Eikon, Venezuela, under US sanctions, was able to ship more oil in March directly to China, its main export destination, even as overall shipments fell slightly last month.
South American state oil company PDVSA and its joint ventures exported an average of 690,323 barrels of oil and fuel per day, down 3.9% from 718,180 bpd in February, and 14.5% less than 808,000 barrels per day. posted in March 2020.
A total of 25 cargoes were dispatched from national waters last month. This despite mechanical problems at its main oil terminal, Jose, on the east coast, which made it difficult to load ships, forcing PDVSA to load more tankers through ship-to-ship traffic, especially in its western region of Amuay, documents show.
PDVSA has largely compensated for this problem by sending more bulk cargo directly to China, which is expected to receive about 248,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil and fuel per day loaded last month, more than double the volume shipped in February.
Vessels to Asia were chartered by about a dozen firms with no prior experience in oil trading, who nevertheless took over more than three-quarters of Venezuela’s total oil exports this year, documents and data show.
One of the tankers slated to ship Venezuelan crude for export to Asia in March returned its cargo three weeks after loading, citing poor oil quality and failed negotiations with a prospective buyer, according to PDVSA documents and two sources with knowledge of the issue.
PDVSA and Venezuela’s oil ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
PDVSA and its joint ventures exported an average of nearly 648,000 bpd in the first quarter, down 31% from the 945,300 bpd shipped in the same period in 2020, according to the data.
Venezuelan oil and fuel oil exports to Cuba averaged 51,290 bpd in March, down from the 72,857 bpd shipped in February. The country sent its ally Iran, which is also under US sanctions, 260,000 barrels of jet fuel.
Venezuela imported about 28,400 barrels of fuel per day last month, according to the data.
Source: Reuters (Report by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City and Mirceli Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela; edited by Dan Grebler)