By Marianna Parraga
March 13 (Reuters) – Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA (PDVSA.UL) on Monday was loading a supertanker with crude and fuel for Cuba, maritime documents showed, an unusually large volume to help its political ally overcome an energy crisis with repeated blackouts.
Several big electrical outages this year have left many in Cuba concerned about power supplies this summer, when residents crank up air conditioning to stay cool in the Caribbean heat.
Cuban officials have blamed the intermittent power on difficulties processing heavy sour Cuban crude and fuel shortages on the island, which depends heavily on imports from Venezuela, for hobbling power generation.
A large fire last year destroyed a portion of the country’s largest oil terminal, Matanzas, and has created obstacles to discharge fuel imports.
The Panama-flagged supertanker Nolan this week is loading 400,000 barrels of fuel oil for power generation at Venezuela’s Jose terminal. It also will load 1.13 million barrels of Venezuelan heavy oil, bringing the total cargo to 1.53 million barrels, according to internal PDVSA shipping documents. The vessel is due to sail later this month.
Cuba has very limited capacity to receive large tankers, especially since the Matanzas fire. The Nolan is bound for Matanzas, one of the documents showed, where Cuban state companies have been discharging imports by transferring cargoes to smaller vessels through ship-to-ship operations.
Seeking to avoid its own fuel crisis, Venezuela’s oil supplies to Cuba last year fell about 6% to 53,600 barrels per day (bpd), independent data based on tanker movement showed.
Nolan, owned by Nigeria-based Thomarose Global Ventures Ltd, was blacklisted in November by the U.S. Treasury Department under accusations of being part of an international oil smuggling network that facilitated oil trades for Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force.
PDVSA, Venezuela’s oil ministry and Cuba’s Center for International Press did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Thomarose Global Ventures could not be reached for comment.
The tanker has not sent a signal from its transponder since mid-December while in Venezuela, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel monitoring data.