Mexico, Cuba’s Second Largest Oil Supplier With 2 Million Barrels in Four Months

The tanker with the Cuban flag ’Vilma,’ which since July has made two trips between Mexico and Cuba. (Vesselfinder)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 10 August 2023 — The coming and going of Cuban ships between Mexico and the Island, noticed since May by specialists and verified by this newspaper through maritime monitoring pages, now has an approximate figure for the oil donated to Havana. According to Reuters’ estimates, published on Thursday, up to two million barrels have been delivered by the Administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the last four months.

With this, the North American country has been, as of the second quarter of 2023, the second largest supplier of crude oil to Cuba, ahead of Russia and behind Venezuela.

In total, Mexico has supplied Cuba since April with about 13,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Olmec light crude oil, says the British agency, a variety that “adapts better to the old refineries of Cuba than the heavy oil of Venezuela.”

Faced with this amount, Russia supplied Cuba with about 12,000 bpd of oil, mostly crude, between February and July, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon.

The British agency points out that to move the cargo from Mexico, Cuba has begun to use its own oil tankers, such as the Vilma and the Delsa, which are not sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of Treasury.

Since July, according to Reuters, the Vilma, previously used to transport Venezuelan crude oil to the Island, has made two trips from the Mexican terminal of Pajaritos, in Veracruz, to the refineries of Cienfuegos and Havana. From the same port of Veracruz and also to Cienfuegos, the Delsa arrived with oil in June, before continuing the trip to Venezuela, where, according to the British agency, it also loaded crude oil.

The report mentions that other Cuban ships have been repaired or inspected in recent years at a shipyard in Veracruz, including the Esperanza, which is currently there and is included in Unted States’ blacklist. In summary, as the Reuters text headlines, the Island’s oil tankers are “regular visitors” to Mexican ports.

Also, the Bicentennial oil tanker, of the State monopoly Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), has made at least four trips from Mexico to Cuba this year.

Last June, journalist Gerardo Aburto announced that the Delsa left the Mexican port of Coatzacoalcos for the Island with a load of 350,000 barrels of crude oil, and he accused Pemex and President López Obrador of diverting resources from the nation to “give crude oil to the oppressive government of Cuba.”

“The shipment order was signed by Alfredo Vargas Luna, manager of Hydrocarbon Marketing (GCH), who in turn received instructions from his boss, Carlos Pérez Téllez, commercial manager of the Subdirectorate of Marketing and Operations belonging to Pemex-Exploración y Producción (PEP). Engineer Angel Cid, who is the Manager of the Subsidiary, was in charge,” said Aburto showing the invoice for the transaction, which revealed that Pemex sold to Gasolineras del Bienestar – a government program to support state institutions and private initiative in Mexico – the 350,000 barrels of Isthmus oil (a variant of crude used to manufacture gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and kerosene) to be sent to the Island.

No other official body, such as Customs or other departments of Pemex, was notified of the transaction through the required documentation. The journalist estimates that, judging by the price of the Isthmus crude oil, the value of the load could be set at between 18 and 20 million dollars.

In the midst of the unstoppable fuel crisis, which still creates long lines at gas stations, Mexico’s help to Cuba is essential. Venezuela, the main source of oil supply to the Island since the beginning of this century, has been decreasing its deliveries. Last July, it sent 53,000 bpd, 22,000 less than the previous month, when it sent 75,000, although this last shipment was much larger than the monthly average of the previous year.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.