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Venezuelan crude sales to U.S. drop to lowest in almost 30 years

Venezuelan crude exports to the United States last year fell 15 percent to the lowest annual average in nearly three decades, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, as fast-declining oil output and financial sanctions continued to hit sales.

Crude volumes to the United States by state-run PDVSA and its joint ventures dropped to 500,013 barrels per day (bpd), a third less than five years ago and the lowest since 1989, figures from Refinitiv Eikon and the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.

A lack of investment, mismanagement and fleeing workers have driven the OPEC-member’s oil production to the lowest in almost seven decades. Under a military-led board of directors, output fell to an average of 1.516 million bpd from January through November last year, a 27-percent fall compared with the 2.072 million bpd for all of 2017, according to numbers officially reported to OPEC. Other estimates are lower.

Venezuela is struggling to fulfill crude-supply contracts, including those tied to oil-for-loan pacts with Russian and Chinese firms. The insufficient export revenue has Venezuelans suffering through hyperinflation and lack of basic goods, fueling an exodus projected to reach 3 million people.

The United States, Venezuela’s largest crude export destination ahead of India and China, has been particularly affected by the shipment drop, especially since sanctions on the country and state-run PDVSA were imposed in 2017 by President Donald Trump. The administration is considering new measures that could begin this month.

The largest U.S. receiver of Venezuelan crude last year was PDVSA’s refining unit Citgo Petroleum with 175,873 bpd, followed by Valero Energy with 166,099 bpd and Chevron Corp with 83,041 bpd, Eikon data showed.

An export increase in December, when sales to the United Stated reached 533,358 bpd due to larger shipments of diluted crude made with imported naphtha, was not enough to avoid a decline in the whole year, according to the data.

The following is a table of Venezuelan crude sales to the United States by PDVSA and its joint ventures, according to Refinitiv Eikon data:

Period     Exports (bpd)  Number of cargoes
 December   533,358        33
 November   482,517        30
 October    489,282        30
 September  601,505        38
 August     468,300        30
 July       494,406        30
 June       563,962        33
 May        538,042        32
 April      512,182        31
 March      454,775        27
 February   378,643        21
 January    476,548        29
                           
 2018       500,013        364
 2017       591,422        419
 2016       718,365        530
 2015       772,877        582
 2014       733,000        N.A.
 2013       755,000        N.A.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Marianna Parraga)

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