November 6, 2018 / 5:16 PM / 15 days ago

Venezuelan crude sales to the U.S. fell 19 percent in October

FILE PHOTO: Oil pumps are seen in Lake Maracaibo, in Lagunillas, Ciudad Ojeda, in the state of Zulia, Venezuela, March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia/File Photo

(Reuters) - Venezuela’s crude sales to the United States declined 19 percent in October from September due to lower exports of upgraded oil from the country’s largest producing region, the Orinoco Belt, according to Refinitiv Eikon data on Tuesday.

A chronic lack of investment, new military-led management at state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, known as PDVSA, and sanctions imposed on the company by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration have contributed to lower exports of Venezuelan oil in recent years, especially to the United States.

Shipments of Venezuelan crude to the United States had exceeded 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September as PDVSA raised cash to pay creditors, including bondholders and U.S. producer ConocoPhillips. But they fell last month to 489,282 bpd as several oil upgraders that turn the country’s extra heavy oil to an exportable product were halted for maintenance work.

Venezuela’s main oil port of Jose also has remained partially out of commission since late August following a tanker collision, which limited exports.

In addition to declining month over month, the volume of Venezuelan oil received last month in the United States was 9.6 percent lower than in October 2017.

Customers in the United States received a total of 30 cargoes from PDVSA and its joint ventures in October versus 38 in September. The largest importer was PDVSA’s U.S. unit Citgo Petroleum, followed by refining firm Valero Energy and Chevron Corp.

PDVSA and its joint ventures last month continued exporting to the United States medium and light crude grades that used to be domestically refined, such as Santa Barbara and Mesa 30. The cargoes were received by Citgo, according to the data.

Venezuela’s overall crude production declined for the fourth month in a row in September to 1.434 million bpd, putting the annual average in 1.53 million bpd, the lowest in over six decades, according to figures reported to OPEC.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Richard Chang

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