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Venezuela's oil exports rise in August on sales to India - data

(Reuters) - Venezuela’s oil exports recovered slightly in August after two months at historic lows, boosted by increased sales to India, according to internal documents from state-run oil firm PDVSA and Refinitiv Eikon data.

Crude oil is dispensed into a bottle in this illustration photo June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/Files

Overall exports of crude and fuel rose to 437,600 barrels per day (bpd) in August, according to the data, more than the roughly 400,000 bpd in June and July, which were the lowest levels since the 1940s for the nation.

But the increase registered in both exports and imports could be short-lived if Washington moves in the coming weeks to remove exemptions to sanctions that have facilitated Venezuela-related oil trade.

The United States plans to tighten sanctions after blacklisting clients and tanker owners working with PDVSA earlier this year. But a handful of customers keep receiving Venezuelan crude under authorizations granted by Washington to exchange the oil for fuel, so no cash payments go to President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

In July, India’s Reliance Industries resumed loading Venezuelan crude under a swap deal permitted by the U.S. Treasury Department after a three-month pause.

The authorization allowed Reliance to re-emerge as the largest buyer of Venezuelan crude by taking 216,000 barrels per day (bpd) last month, almost half of total exports, according to the data.

The second-largest destination for Venezuela’s oil in August was Cuba with almost 66,000 bpd of crude and refined products, followed by Europe with 65,000 bpd. The South American nation, which boasts some of the largest crude reserves on the planet, shipped a total of 17 cargoes last month, the data showed.

[For a link to a graphic showing Venezuela's exports, click on:]

Fuel imports by the OPEC-member nation increased in August to 53,160 bpd of mainly diesel and gasoil delivered through swaps, according to the data.

PDVSA did not reply to a request for comment.

PDVSA has in recent months boosted its ship-to-ship operations near the Amuay bay to load tankers at sea, rather than in Jose, its main terminal for oil exports. The number of vessels doing so-called dark voyages to Venezuela - turning satellite transponders off during the loading operation - has also increased, according to the Eikon data.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City and Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela; Editing by David Gaffen