La Jornada newspaper
Friday, September 3, 2021, p. 26

Houston. The lack of diluents to produce Venezuela’s flagship export crude hit foreign oil sales last month, forcing state-owned PDVSA to declare a high alert at its main terminal, according to company documents and tanker tracking data.

The shortage of raw materials to produce crude blends, which also brought down oil extraction in Venezuela’s main producing region last month, has been exacerbated as PDVSA dedicates a higher percentage of its lighter crudes to refining.

Historically, a good part of these medium and light crudes are used to dilute the extra heavy from the Orinoco Belt and formulate exportable blends.

A total of 26 shipments of crude oil and fuel left Venezuela in August with an average of 625,840 barrels per day (bpd), a 16 percent decrease compared to almost 750,000 bpd the previous month.

We are on high alert for low inventory of diluted crude for processing, indicates an internal PDVSA report on its end-of-month stocks. The shortage prompted cuts in three crude blending and upgrading projects in the Orinoco last month.

More than three-quarters of Venezuela’s oil shipments went to Asian destinations, mainly China and Malaysia. Cuba, its political ally, received close to 40 thousand bpd of crude oil and residual products for electricity generation.

PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.

The oil company has turned to little-known clients, registered in countries from Russia to Lebanon, to support its exports to Asia.

Those partners, responsible for intermediating in the sale of 87 percent of August’s exports, have replaced Western companies that stopped swapping oil for products at the request of the United States, which was thereby seeking to strengthen sanctions against Venezuela.

PDVSA’s fuel oil exports to destinations such as 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 petroleum coke exports to Cuba and Europe.

For now, today the dialogue between the government of Nicolás Maduro and the Unitary Platform of Venezuela continues in Mexico.