Valero Boosts Imports of Venezuelan Oil as Sanctions Loom
U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp this year boosted its imports of Venezuelan crude ahead of U.S. sanctions over the country's disputed presidential election and as other customers received less of the OPEC-member's exports, according to Thomson Reuters trade flows data.Venezuelan oil production has tumbled to a multi-decade low this year, cutting shipments to buyers in the United States and elsewhere and worsening a severe economic recession. Its crude exports averaged 1.19 million barrels per day (bpd) in the January-April period…
PDVSA Raises Prospect of Force Majeure on Oil Exports
OPEC member Venezuela has raised the prospect of declaring force majeure on contracts with major crude buyers amid plummeting output from its oil fields and tanker bottlenecks at ports, according to three sources familiar with the matter.Falling production from Venezuela has contributed to a rally in global oil prices to a near four-year high, and other OPEC members may boost output at a meeting later this month to compensate for the shortfall and other risks to global supplies.Oil is the financial lifeline for the embattled socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro…
Financial Pressure Forces PDVSA to Embraces Pragmatism
CARACAS/HOUSTON, March 13 (Reuters) - A subtle change in office attire may be the most telling symbol of a quiet revolution taking place inside Venezuela's troubled economic engine, giant oil firm PDVSA. For years, PDVSA employees were encouraged to wear red shirts in support of late President Hugo Chavez's socialist movement. Rafael Ramirez, the former oil czar famously vowed the state-owned firm would be "redder than red" and sent workers to state rallies. Over the past few months, however, the company's new management - led by president Eulogio del Pino, a low-profile Stanford-educated engineer - has eased up on revolutionary garb and attendance at militant gatherings, according to sources within and outside the company.
Venezuela Probes ex-minister accused of corruption in Ferry Deals
A former minister in President Nicolas Maduro's government denied in an interview published on Friday accusations of corruption during the purchase of three ferries from Spain and said he was being hounded for denouncing currency crimes. Local media said an arrest warrant was issued earlier this month for Hebert Garcia, a general who served as transportation and food minister for Maduro, on charges of embezzlement in the 50 million euro ($54 million) purchase in 2013. Maduro, elected to replace the late Hugo Chavez two years ago, has vowed this week to step up a crackdown on corruption, be it from opponents or within his ruling Socialist Party. But foes accuse him of protecting the worst offenders.
Sovcomflot Holds PDVSA Oil Hostage over Debts
Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA, sent a tanker in October to the Caribbean with the expectation that its cargo of crude would fetch about $20 million - money the crisis-stricken nation desperately needs. Instead, the owner of the tanker, the Russian state-owned shipping conglomerate Sovcomflot, held the oil in hopes of collecting partial payment on $30 million that it says PDVSA owes for unpaid shipping fees. Despite a longstanding alliance between Venezuela and Russia, Sovcomflot sued PDVSA in St. Maarten, a Dutch island on the northeast end of the Caribbean. "The ship owners ... imposed garnishment on the aforementioned oil cargo," reads a March decision by the St. Maarten court.
Banned at Sea: Venezuela's Crude-stained Oil Tankers
In the scorching heat of the Caribbean Sea, workers in scuba suits scrub crude oil by hand from the hull of the Caspian Galaxy, a tanker so filthy it can't set sail in international waters. The vessel is among many that are constantly contaminated at two major export terminals where they load crude from Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA. The water here has an oily sheen from leaks in the rusty pipelines under the surface. That means the tankers have to be cleaned before traveling to many foreign ports…
Venezuelan's Late Shipping Containers bill at $1bln
Venezuelan state agencies have run up close to $1 billion in debts with shipping firms due to delays in returning containers, potentially boosting the cost of importing staple goods as the country struggles with product shortages and an economic crisis. The agencies have held containers for months or simply never returned them, at times leaving the truck-sized steel boxes for years in oil industry facilities or on provincial farms even though this costs $100 per day per container, according to industry sources. The debts have piled up over the last six years, coinciding with a steady rise in the role of state agencies in importing goods to Venezuela, particularly food. The country is served by industry giants such as Maersk of Denmark and Hamburg Sud of Germany.
Guyana-Venezuela Border Spat Flares after Exxon Find
Guyana's new government on Monday attacked a decree by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro which it said seeks to annex Guyanese maritime space in the wake of an oil discovery. The dispute between the South American neighbors goes back to the early 19th Century and has resurged after an offshore oil discovery by ExxonMobil Corp last month. The decree creates a theoretical new "defense" zone offshore that would, in Venezuela's eyes, leave the former British colony with no direct access to the Atlantic. "Guyana rejects this illegality which seeks to undermine our development through the exploitation of our natural resources offshore," added the statement.
Venezuela Considers Importing Crude for the First Time
Venezuela is considering importing crude oil for the first time ever and could use a light oil from its partner in OPEC, Algeria, to dilute their own heavy crude, according to a company document seen by Reuters accessed on Wednesday. Despite having the largest oil reserves in the world, in recent years Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has been buying increasing amounts of heavy naphtha for blending with the extraction of heavy crude in the Orinoco Oil Belt, the largest producing region . These blends are made to convert the extra-an exportable product, amid the decline in local production of medium and light crude oils previously used as diluents and delays in construction of new breeders that can change the quality of the crude.
U.S. Sanctions Vens as Pressure Builds on Maduro
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials as the country's opposition launched a two-day strike on Wednesday, heaping pressure on unpopular President Nicolas Maduro to scrap plans for a controversial new congress. Venezuela's long-time ideological foe the United States targeted the country's army and police chiefs, the national director of elections, and a vice president of the state oil company for alleged corruption and rights abuses. U.S. President Donald Trump spared Venezuela for now from broader sanctions against its vital oil industry, although such actions were still under consideration. U.S.
Oil Markets Brace for Possible US Sanctions on Venezuela
U.S. oil markets were readying for fallout from potential U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's vital oil sector on Monday after Sunday's election in the struggling country was deemed a "sham" by Washington. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday celebrated the election of a new legislative superbody that will have the power to dissolve state institutions such as the opposition-run Congress. Countries around the world denounced the vote. U.S. crude futures jumped above $50 a barrel for the first time in two months early in the session before retreating, after U.S.
Pirates and Hold-ups: Crime Strikes Venezuela's Oil Industry
When night falls over western Venezuela, armed gangs known as "pirates" sometimes ride boats into muggy Lake Maracaibo to steal equipment from oil wells. In the country's Paraguana peninsula, opposite the Caribbean island of Aruba, slum dwellers at times break through a perimeter wall into Venezuela's biggest refinery and rob machinery, construction tools, and cables to sell as scrap. On the other side of the OPEC country in Monagas state, around 26,000 potential barrels were lost in March during a shutdown after state oil company employees and contractors stole copper cables and caused a tank to overflow. Venezuela's national crime pandemic - the United Nations says the country has the world's second-highest murder rate after Honduras - is a growing headache for the oil industry…
Trump Prohibits Dealings in New Venezuelan Government, PDVSA Debt
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting dealings in certain Venezuelan public sector debt on to pressure the government of President Nicolas Maduro to halt its "tyranny," the White House the White house said on Friday. The order prohibits dealings in new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and by its state oil company, PDVSA. But the White House said the order allows Treasury to provide licenses for other commercial and humanitarian transaction, including financing for commercial trade, petroleum exports and imports and transactions that only involve PDVSA's U.S. unit, Citgo. (Reporting by David Lawder and Tim Ahmann)
PDVSA seeks to Securitize Oil Services Debts
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA is in talks with oil services companies to turn unpaid bills into financial instruments, a process known as securitization, its president, Eulogio del Pino, said in a statement on Saturday. Several oil services companies suspended or slowed operations this year due to difficulties in obtaining payment from PDVSA, which is struggling because of low oil prices and a decaying socialist economy. Del Pino last month said PDVSA signed financing agreements…
Maduro Says Venezuela's 2015 Budget to Put Oil at $60
Venezuela's 2015 budget will be based on a target oil price of $60 dollars per barrel, President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday night, but he repeated expectations that prices will recover. Venezuela routinely underestimates oil prices when planning its budget to permit more spending later with fewer budget restrictions. The OPEC country's 2014 budget proposal also put oil prices at $60 dollars. Oil has dropped more than 25 percent since June on strong supply, signs of weak demand growth and indications that key oil producers…
Venezuela, Ecuador to Defend Oil Prices
Venezuela and Ecuador are working on a joint proposal to defend oil prices that the two countries will present at the next OPEC meeting, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday. Venezuela was the first country to request an extraordinary meeting of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss the sharp drop in crude prices that began in October, but the idea got little support. "Our Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Ecuador today coordinating with the government of President (Rafael) Correa…
Venezuela detains three vessels for suspected fuel smuggling - navy
Three vessels suspected of smuggling subsidized fuel from Venezuela's refinery-rich Paraguana peninsula were detained this week by the country's navy, a local commander said on Saturday. Sources told Reuters on Monday that seven people had been arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle diesel in a tanker owned by state oil company PDVSA. Admiral Andres Gomez, commander of a local navy unit, confirmed tanker 'Negra Hipolita' was found with an excess load of 50,000 barrels of diesel fuel at the Cardon refinery.
U.S. Considers Venezuela Oil Sanctions
The Trump administration is considering sanctioning a Venezuelan military-run oil services company and restricting insurance coverage for Venezuelan oil shipments to ratchet up pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro, a U.S. official said. With Maduro running for another term in an April election that Washington and its allies oppose as a sham, the United States is weighing sanctions that would target Venezuela’s vital oil sector beyond what has been done before, the official told Reuters on Wednesday. Some measures could come before the vote and others could be imposed afterwards.
Anglo American seeks compensation from Venezuela
Anglo American is seeking compensation from Venezuela at a World Bank tribunal over the 2012 cancellation of mining concessions by late president Hugo Chavez's government. The World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) said on its website the claim was introduced on Thursday, but gave no more details. Venezuela faces more than 20 international compensation cases in disputes largely stemming from the 1999-2013 Chavez era. He died from cancer in 2013, with a protege, Nicolas Maduro, winning election to replace him. The best-known cases are multi-billion compensation claims by ExxonMobil Corp and ConocoPhillips over nationalizations.