By Marianna Parraga and Mircely Guanipa
HOUSTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Loading delays caused by the poor quality of oil from Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA cut the OPEC-member’s exports in November to below third-quarter levels, internal PDVSA documents and tracking data showed.
PDVSA in the second half of this year began taking advantage of a stable supply of Iranian condensate to dilute the South American nation’s extra heavy oil and increase crude output so it could meet demand for both exports and domestic consumption.
But the reshuffle has come at a cost: an excess of water in some exportable crudes is creating loading delays, while the constant discharge of imported condensate is depriving PDVSA of key infrastructure for exports, leading to an inventory build.
PDVSA and its joint ventures delivered 572,567 barrels per day (bpd) of crude and refined products to customers last month, almost 20% below the previous month and about 2% below exports in the same month last year, the data showed.
HIGH WATER LEVELS
“Inventories of Merey (crude) remain low and out of specification due to high percentage of water,” PDVSA said in one of its internal loading reports reviewed by Reuters.
PDVSA and Venezuela’s oil ministry did not reply to requests for comment.
The state-run oil company exported an average of 640,000 bpd in the first quarter, 642,000 bpd in the second quarter and 591,000 bpd in the third quarter. In October, it reach a peak of 711,000 bpd.
More crude exports from its largest ship-to-ship area, Amuay, were not enough to offset the overall decline, but Venezuela’s state companies continued ramping up shipments of oil byproducts and petrochemicals in November. read more
Over two thirds of cargoes set sail bound for China and other Asian countries in tankers chartered by companies with little history of oil trading, according to the documents and data. An average of 77,000 bpd of crude, jet fuel and gasoline were shipped to Venezuela’s top political ally, Cuba.
For a graphic on PDVSA’s monthly exports, click on https://graphics.reuters.com/VENEZUELA-OIL/EXPORTS/nmovaxqarpa/
In contrast to the shipments, PDVSA’s crude production rose to a daily peak of 904,000 barrels in November and averaged some 830,000 bpd for the month, a level not seen since early 2020, according to internal PDVSA data and independent estimates.
A stable supply of Iranian diluents as part of an oil-for-condensate swap deal has made it possible to keep the nation’s prime Orinoco Belt output and transportation operations afloat.
Still, exports delays and only two of four crude upgraders and one blending station in service for producing exportable oil grades, crude output quickly filled inventories in November, forcing PDVSA to use floating storage for diluted crude, one of the documents showed.