Court Lifts Embargo Against a Cargo of Russian Oil Destined for Cuba

Cienfuegos Refinery, an investment abandoned by the Government of Nicolás Maduro. (EFE)

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14ymedio, Miami, 26 June 2018 — An oil tanker prevented for more than a month from delivering Russian oil bought by Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), to send to Cuba, has been unloaded in the Caribbean. Another ship with Russian oil for Havana paid for by Caracas, will also unload very soon, according to sources quoted by Reuters.

The Aframax Advante Atom tanker, detained after a dispute between PDVSA and ConocoPhillips, based in Texas, had not been able to deliever the oil purchased Russia in May to support Venezuela’s Caribbean ally. Conoco obtained a court order that allowed it to confiscate assets, inventories and shipments of PDVSA for a value of two billion dollars to satisfy a lawsuit against Caracas.

Although a part of the measures were repealed, Venezuela has not been able to fully utilize its refining and storage facilities in the region and has been forced to divert oil shipments, which delays its exports.

According to Reuters, the cargo of Aframax Advante Atom was transferred from ship to ship in the vicinity of the Cayman Islands, south of Cuba. The agency also reports that the Aframax British Cygnet, which was carrying Russian crude for re-export to Cuba, was diverted to the Aruba transfer area at the beginning of June to unload its cargo.

The crisis of the Venezuelan oil company, once the jewel in the country’s crown, has led it to buy oil abroad to meet its commitments. Venezuela was sending around 100,000 barrels a day of oil to Cuba as part of a collaboration agreement signed between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. In return, Cuba continues to send thousands of professionals to Venezuela.

After the collapse of the Venezuelan economy, shipments have been reduced to 40,000 barrels per day, putting in check the fragile Cuban economy, which recorded red numbers for the first time in more than two decades last year.

Venezuela has abandoned important investments in Cuba , such as the Cienfuegos refinery, which started with money from Caracas but was recently handed over to the Cuban side.

“PDVSA exported an average of 765,000 barrels per day of crude and refined products to its customers in the first two weeks of June,” Reuters says, representing a 32% drop in production. The number of active platforms fell in May to 28, compared with 54 in the same month of 2017.

Sources from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries estimated that Venezuela’s production fell to 1.3 million barrels of oil in May, the lowest production since the 1950s.


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