Venezuela's PDVSA readies diesel cargo to Cuba after 7-month pause -document

The corporate logo of state oil company PDVSA is seen on a tank at an oil facility in Lagunillas
The corporate logo of state oil company PDVSA is seen on a tank at an oil facility in Lagunillas, Venezuela January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Isaac Urrutia/File Photo

April 19 (Reuters) - Venezuela's PDVSA is preparing to ship a 190,000-barrel cargo of diesel to Cuba, a document from the state-run oil firm showed, a move to help its closest political ally stave off fuel shortages and prevent summer electricity blackouts.

The Communist-ruled island, which depends on imports to cover more than half of its fuel demand, has not received any Venezuelan diesel since September, forcing costly purchases on the open market. Earlier this year, PDVSA exported jet fuel and gasoline to Cuba, tanker tracking data and documents showed.

Cuba has struggled this year with a diesel deficit for power generation and vehicles as imports from Venezuela have remained below historical levels and high prices have made purchases from other suppliers almost unaffordable. read more

The Cuba-flagged tanker Delsa, chartered by state-run company Cubametales, is loading 200,000 barrels of fuel oil and 190,000 barrels of diesel destined for the Matanzas storage terminal, according to a PDVSA export schedule seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

PDVSA and Cuba's information ministry did not reply to requests for comment.

Venezuela regularly provides crude to Cuba for refining and fuel oil for power generation. But due to its own limitations to produce motor fuels and U.S. sanctions, PDVSA has reduced refined product shipments to Cubametales since last year.

Crude processing at Venezuela's refineries has stabilized in recent weeks around 230,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to independent figures, a level well below its 1.3 million-bpd capacity.

Fuel shortages have added to Cuba's struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and from U.S. sanctions. Waits at stations in Havana have eased, but public transportation has not returned to normal capacity, a situation attributed by analysts to less fuel availability and lack of parts and vehicles.

Venezuela's re-exports of diesel to Cuba was among arguments used by Washington to suspend in 2020 the authorizations it had extended for the South American country's oil-for-fuel swaps.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga, Editing by Marguerita Choy

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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.