14ymedio, Havana, September 28, 2023 — The intervention of the Cuban Minister of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, this Thursday on the State TV Roundtable program has left more doubts than explanations among those who have closely followed the energy fluctuations of the Island. Who are the fuel suppliers whose non-compliance has led the country, according to the official, to the current situation? Where is all the oil that has entered the Island in recent months? What is the current situation of the Turkish floating power plants, called patanas, contracted by the Island to the Karpowership company?
For Professor Jorge Piñón, a specialist in the oil sector at the University of Texas (USA), the minister was incoherent in his description of the Cuban energy panorama, about to enter a new stage of worsening blackouts and cuts in activities.
“There is no fuel or crude oil to refine,” summarizes Piñón. “There is no money to buy in international markets and the suppliers – which cannot be other than Russia, Venezuela and Mexico – are not complying with Havana.”
A clear indicator of the debacle is that the Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba refineries – with processing capacity of 55,000 and 17,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, respectively – are not processing fuel, while the one in Havana, reports Piñón, is refining only 8,532 bpd, when its capacity is 22,000.
The Government has problems with the quality of the fuel oil they are receiving, which will affect the operation of the Turkish floating power plants
In addition, the Government has problems with the quality of the fuel oil they are receiving, which will affect in the operation of the Turkish floating power plants, which work with that fuel,” he adds. “They’re expecting supplies for October. Will that cargo solve the problem?” The shortage of diesel, from which the generating sets are supplied, and the never-resolved lack of maintenance of the thermoelectric plants also darken the horizon.
“It is not surprising that countries like Russia, Mexico and Venezuela now recognize the value of the ’free’ supplies they send to Cuba. They prefer to receive the benefits. At the end of the day, those countries need it,” says the expert.
The minister also did not respond, Piñón emphasizes, about what Cuba does with the continuous supply of fuel that arrives to the Island in tankers flying the flags of different countries. This Thursday, maritime tracking applications indicated the presence of three oil tankers in the Bay of Havana, the Alicia , the Ocean Mariner and the Ocean Integrity (Cuban, Panamanian and Liberian flags, respectively).
In Matanzas, where three tankers are already anchored – the Cubans Aquila and María Cristina, and the Panamanian Aquila – the arrival of the Caribbean Alliance, with the Panamanian flag, from the Mariel Special Development Zone, is expected. Finally, the arrival at the port of Moa, on October 8, of the tanker NQ Morina, flying the Maltese flag, is expected.
According to Piñón, the monthly report on Venezuela’s oil exports to its partners, including Cuba, from the British agency Reuters – about to be published – could shed a little more clarity on De la O Levy’s remarks on the crisis.
This Wednesday, the minister appeared on the Roundtable program and assured that, even “having a greater average availability” in electricity generation compared to “previous times,” today’s situation is alarming with “fuel.”
“We are not at zero fuel,” he pointed out, but “the country is in a very tight situation.” The energy deficit expected for the next few days is 400 megawatts, he said, while blaming the situation on the closure of the Cienfuegos and Santiago refineries due to “problems with suppliers.” By October, he estimated, the situation could improve, since the country will receive “some quantities of fuel” that, of course, he did not reveal.
“We are not going to have the level of fuel that we need or that we had in previous months, much less what we need, but we are going to increase distributed generation and supply to the economy in the coming days,” he concluded. “Cuba is not going to turn off, that does not exist, it will not exist,” was his umpteenth promise.
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