14ymedio, Madrid, 10 October 2023 — Octavio Romero, general director of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), denied on Monday that the state monopoly has donated crude oil to Cuba, four days after it was revealed that the United States canceled a multimillion dollar credit to the oil company in August, precisely because it had exported fuel to the Island.
“Petróleos Mexicanos has not made any fuel donation to any foreign government. I’m not lying,” Romero said in the Mexican Congress when asked about the issue by a deputy, according to the newspaper El Economista.
The official did not mention the shipments made by the Administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to Cuban ports, 2.8 million barrels of oil so far this year – worth about 200 million dollars – according to calculations by the Energy Institute of the University of Texas, nor whether he has charged Cuba for them.
Much less did he refer to the fact that, precisely this Monday, the Cuban-flagged ship Vilma was still in the port of Pajaritos, in the Mexican state of Veracruz, where it has been for more than a week according to ship geolocation platforms. The tanker, say the specialists consulted by El Economista, is loading 400,000 barrels of crude oil for export to the Island.
Last Thursday, former Mexican diplomat Agustín Gutiérrez Canet revealed in his Milenio column, from financial sources in Washington, that the Bank of Exports and Imports of the United States (Exim) had canceled a credit to Pemex worth 800 million dollars, after getting knowledge of the donation of more than one million barrels of oil to Cuba between June and July, valued at 77 million dollars.
The tanker, the specialists say, is carrying 400,000 barrels of crude oil for export to the Island
The bank agreed at that time, apparently at the express request of Pemex according to the article, to keep it silent, and the oil company withdrew the request for the credit without explanation, as stated in the record.
When the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alicia Bárcena, told Bloomberg last month that Mexico should start charging Cuba for oil to avoid sanctions, analysts interpreted that to mean the country could not afford to give away millions of barrels at the current price of crude oil, since it was in a deep economic crisis.
However, the revelations about the cancellation of the credit showed that the measure was not preventive, but a reaction to the sanction.
Despite the fuel crisis that does not subside, Cuba continues to receive oil not only from Mexico but also from other allies, mainly Venezuela and Russia. Thus, Caracas sent in September, according to Reuters data, one of the highest amounts recorded since 2016: a total of 86,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, fuel oil, diesel and gasoline, although a part of it arrived in Cuba during the first week of October.
The figure far exceeded the 65,000 bpd in August and was more than double that of January, the month with the least Venezuelan fuel received in the year, 40,000 bpd.
The tanker Petion is unloading in Cienfuegos, and in the Bay of Nipe (Holguín) three ships (Primula, Marianna and Equality) participate in the oil transhipment operations that the Sandino brings from Venezuela, according to the information provided by the expert of the Energy Institute of the University of Texas, Jorge Piñón.
When it lost its storage capacity in Matanzas due to the Supertanker Base fire, Cuba had to transfer the oil that arrived to other ships and then distribute it in several ports on the Island.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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