Russian oil tanker bound for fire-ravaged Cuban terminal diverts to smaller port

A view of a destroyed area of tanks that exploded near Cuba's supertanker port in Matanzas, Cuba, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Aug 11 (Reuters) - A cargo of Russian oil bound for Cuba's Matanzas terminal has been diverted to a smaller port, following a spectacular fire that destroyed a large portion of the island's main oil terminal, vessel monitoring data showed on Thursday.

Lengthy power blackouts have followed the fatal blaze, which killed one firefighter and left 14 others missing. The outages are a sign of how the accident is aggravating a long-standing energy crisis due to an obsolete power grid and lack of fuel.

The Liberia-flagged tanker NS Laguna carrying 700,000 barrels of oil on Wednesday changed its destination to Cuba's Antilla port, from Matanzas, making a slight turn toward direction, and is expected to dock on Saturday, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

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Venezuela's state-run PDVSA, Cuba's main crude and fuel supplier, also has diverted two shipments of crude to smaller Cuban ports after the fire. read more

On Wednesday, Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel said the country was designing a new system for receiving imports as part of a wider recovery effort after the worst oil fire in Cuba's history.

The Caribbean nation's government plans to assess its refineries' capacity to process imported fuel, and utilizable infrastructure between those and ports, he added.

Cuba is heavily dependent on energy imports for everything from fuel for power generation to motor diesel and gasoline. The 2.4 million-barrel Matanzas terminal is the only one with capacity to receive large vessels.

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Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Marc Frank in Havana; Editing by David Gregorio

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Thomson Reuters

Focused on energy-related sanctions, corruption and money laundering with 20 years of experience covering Latin America's oil and gas industries. Born in Venezuela and based in Houston, she is author of the book "Oro Rojo" about Venezuela's troubled state-run company PDVSA and Mom to three boys.