Venezuela Sells Its Oil on the International Market Instead of Giving It to Cuba

This Monday, the tanker Ocean Mariner left Havana Bay / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 April 2024 — The data on the delivery of Venezuelan oil to Cuba in March confirm that Havana cannot count on Caracas at the moment to alleviate its energy problems. As in February, only 34,000 barrels per day (bpd) arrived on the Island that month, 39% below the monthly average of 56,000 bpd in 2023, according to information provided by Reuters.

That Venezuela would continue to send relatively little oil to the Island during 2024 had already been anticipated by Texas University specialist Jorge Piñón. Before Reuters, with sources in the Venezuelan state-owned Pdvsa, revealed the figure, the researcher had explained to this newspaper that his estimates “were not good.”

“There are rumors that Joe Biden will not reactivate the sanctions on Venezuela on April 18 and will wait until June. If so, this will allow Pdvsa to sell more oil to countries that pay in cash and keep its shipments to Cuba below average,” argues the expert.

Three days ago, the Island received a ship with 90,000 tons (684,000 barrels) of Russian oil   

“For the moment,” he added, “it seems that the Mexican life jacket is replaced by the Russian one.” Three days ago, the Island received a ship with 90,000 tons (684,000 barrels) of Russian oil to alleviate the energy crisis, the second sent by the Kremlin. On March 17, another shipment of 650,000 barrels of one of the best crude oils in the world, valued at 50 million dollars, arrived in Cuba.

However, the Russian “aid” still does not exceed that of Mexico, which in the first two months of the year sent 1,970,000 barrels of its best crudes, the Isthmus and the Olmeca, to compensate for the collapse of Venezuelan shipments.

Caracas’ oil exports reached their highest level since 2020 this March, increased by 32% compared to the previous month, due to the high international demand in the face of the threat of the United States to reactivate the sanctions against Pdvsa. According to Reuters, about 52 ships left Venezuelan ports in March with an average of 884,935 bpd of crude oil and refined products, in addition to 463,000 tons of petroleum derivatives.

The main destinations were, once again, Asia (550,000 bpd), the United States (178,000 bpd) and Europe (77,300 bpd). Pdvsa also assures that it is prepared for “any scenario,” including the return of sanctions.

According to Reuters, the high demand for oil has caused great delays and a “knot” of ships in the country’s ports, which has resulted in several oil tankers having left Venezuelan waters without being able to stock up on crude oil.

For different reasons, also in Cuba, ships are encountering numerous difficulties in unloading the fuel that Havana needs to limit the blackouts. This is the case of the Eco Fleet tanker, which has been off the Havana coast for more than a month with about 260,000 barrels of diesel loaded in Tunis.

The Government has not pronounced on the impasse with the ship, whose arrival had been announced by the Minister of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, a situation that Piñón describes, at the very least, as “strange,” given the announcement “with great fanfare” of the arrival of the ship by the minister.

It was not until the end of March, with the arrival of the first of the two Russian ships, that the energy situation on the Island began to experience relief. The long blackouts that characterized the first weeks of the year caused popular protests in Santiago de Cuba, Granma and Matanzas.

For this Tuesday, the UNE part predicts a deficit of 295 megawatts in peak hours  

The Government, for its part, insists that the Electric Union (UNE) is recovering from a “pothole” with the installation of several photovoltaic parks throughout the country, the maintenance of the main thermoelectric power plants and the arrival of oil to refine. For this Tuesday, the UNE predicts a deficit of 295 megawatts (MW) in peak hours, an impact greater than 274 MW on Monday, but much lower than in previous weeks when the deficit reached 45% of daily demand.

As for the Havana refinery, this newspaper has found that it has been shut down for months. Likewise, 14ymedio verified that yesterday morning, the tanker Alicia, with the Cuban flag, was anchored in front of the Ñico López, and the Ocean Mariner, with a Liberian flag, was leaving the bay in an unknown direction.

According to maritime tracking applications, the NS Concord, Sandino and Prímula oil tankers are also in Matanzas, and they expect the Nordic and the Nicos I.V. in Cienfuegos, and the Fortunato in Moa.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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