CARACAS, April 10 Asia overtook North America last year as the main destination for Venezuelan exports of crude oil and processed fuels, according to preliminary data submitted to parliament by state oil company PDVSA.
Asia received an average of 1.04 million barrels per day (bpd) from Venezuela in 2013, up a fifth compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, exports to the United States, Canada and Mexico fell 11 percent to 879,000 bpd.
In its report to the National Assembly, PDVSA said it was increasing shipments to Asia, while maintaining those to South and Central America and the Caribbean, as part of a long-held strategy of market diversification.
Asia accounted for 41 percent of Venezuela's oil exports last year, PDVSA said, with the majority being received by China at 563,000 bpd, and India at 396,000 bpd.
The company's preliminary figures show the same tendency as reported by the official U.S. Energy Information Administration, which says U.S. purchases of Venezuelan oil fell to 797,000 bpd in 2013, a 17 percent decline on the previous year and their lowest level for 25 years.
Historically, the United States has been the main buyer of Venezuelan oil. Europe also received less from PDVSA last year: an average of 118,000 bpd, versus 152,000 the year before.
Overall, OPEC nation Venezuela exported an average of 2.04 million bpd of crude last year, the same volume as in 2012, while exports of processed fuels rose slightly to 480,000 bpd.
PDVSA and its joint venture partners produced 2.79 million bpd of crude, slightly more than the 2.67 million bpd pumped in 2012, but down from a peak of 2.99 million bpd in 2006.
The decline in Venezuelan oil shipments to the United States has affected PDVSA's Houston-based refining subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum Corp, which no longer receives processed fuels, condensate or light sweet crude from Venezuela. (Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Bernard Orr)