Exclusive: Venezuela's port woes stall oil exports to Rosneft - source

(Reuters) - The closing of a dock at Venezuela’s main oil export port could delay as much as 5 million barrels in crude deliveries to Russian company Rosneft, further complicating oil-for-loan agreements between state-run PDVSA and Rosneft, a source said on Wednesday and internal PDVSA documents showed.

FILE PHOTO: The Rosneft logo is pictured on a safety helmet in Vung Tau, Vietnam April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

A tanker collision at the weekend forced Venezuela’s PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] to halt operations at Jose port’s South dock, curtailing planned shipments mainly for Rosneft, and for U.S. firms Valero Energy and Chevron Corp until damages can be repaired.

PDVSA and Rosneft did not reply to requests for comment.

PDVSA has fallen behind on its export contracts this year, raising the prospect of temporary cancellation of shipments under force majeure if it cannot recover production and export capacity.

In April, Rosneft and PDVSA signed a refinancing agreement designed to allow the Venezuelan company to catch up on delayed loan payments by delivering more crude to Rosneft, according to the source and the PDVSA documents, which detailed Venezuela’s oil exports. The Russian company was using Jose’s South dock to pick up the cargoes.

PDVSA was scheduled to deliver 4 million barrels per month (133,000 barrels per day) of heavy crude to Rosneft under the April agreement.

“There’s no way to deliver all those barrels this month without the South dock,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

In the first three weeks of August, PDVSA delivered 1.93 million barrels of diluted crude oil (DCO) bound for India to a unit of Rosneft. More than 2 million barrels are pending for August delivery and additional barrels were planned for early September, according to the documents.

On Aug. 29, the Nordic Moon, Wedyan, Leni P and Nordic Thunder, all large vessels, were anchored off Jose port waiting for authorization to load up to 5 million barrels of crude for Rosneft, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data and the PDVSA reports.

Valero and Chevron also were taking Venezuelan upgraded crudes at Jose’s South dock before the collision. PDVSA had planned to deliver in August 4.5 million barrels to these and other U.S.-based companies under supply contracts and spot deals, according to the documents that were seen by Reuters.

Valero did not respond to a request for comment. Chevron was unable to immediately comment. It was unclear how much crude these companies received prior to the closure.

This month, the South dock was to receive 3 million barrels (100,000 barrels per day) of imported heavy naphtha, a larger volume than typical purchases of this product that was aimed to offset planned stoppages of crude upgraders in the Orinoco Belt. Naphtha is used in Venezuela to dilute its extra heavy oil for export.

Jose’s South dock was refurbished in 2016 to increase its export capacity. It was later designated as PDVSA’s main hub for naphtha imports. Along with two other berths (East and West) and two single monobuoy systems (SPMs), Jose handles three quarters of Venezuela’s crude exports.

Venezuela’s crude exports fell in the first half of 2018 to 1.22 million bpd from 1.65 million bpd in the same period of 2017, according to Reuters data. The country’s production in July fell to its lowest level in over 60 years because of a lack of investment, legal disputes with creditors and sanctions imposed by the U.S. government on PDVSA.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Toni Reinhold