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Venezuela’s August oil exports fall amid feedstock scarcity

A lack of diluents to produce Venezuela’s flagship crude grades took a toll on oil exports last month, forcing state-run PDVSA to declare “maximum alert” at its main terminal, company documents and tanker tracking data showed.

The shortage of these blending feedstocks, which also reduced oil output at Venezuela’s main producing region last month, has worsened recently as PDVSA turned to refining more of its light and medium crude into motor fuels.

Historically, those grades were used to dilute its more abundant extra heavy crudes.

A total of 26 cargoes of crude and refined products set sail from Venezuela in August, carrying an average of 625,840 barrels per day (bpd), a 16% decrease from almost 750,000 bpd in the prior month, according to the documents and data.

“(We are in) maximum alert due to low inventories of diluted crude oil for processing,” an internal PDVSA report on stocks said at month’s end. The shortage led to cutbacks at three upgrading and blending projects in the Orinoco last month.

Over three quarters of Venezuela’s oil shipments departed for Asian destinations, mainly China and Malaysia. Political ally Cuba received about 40,000 bpd of crude and residual fuel for power generation, the documents showed.

PDVSA did not reply to a request for comment.

PDVSA has turned to little-known customers based in Russia, Lebanon and elsewhere to sustain its exports to Asia. Those clients, responsible for intermediating in the sale of 87% of August exports, have taken the place of Western companies that halted oil-for-product swaps at the request of the United States as it strengthened sanctions on Venezuela.

One of those new customers is China Concord Petroleum Co, or CCPC, a logistics firm that has emerged as a central player in the supply of sanctioned oil from Iran and Venezuela despite being blacklisted by Washington two years ago.

PDVSA’s fuel oil exports to destinations including Turkey, China, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates also fell, to 128,000 bpd from a peak of 274,000 bpd the previous month. But the company managed to increase exports of petroleum coke to Cuba and Europe.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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