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PDVSA of Venezuela has drastically cut the quantity of oil exported to Cuba in what may signal a possible shift in the Latin American state’s energy diplomacy.
According to a Reuters report published on 8 June, PDVSA sent approximately 53,500 barrels of crude per day to Cuba in 2016. This represents a 40 percent drop in crude received by the island in comparison to the first six months of 2015.
Venezuela has partially offset the smaller crude shipments to Cuba by boosting exports of refined products including fuel oil, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Nevertheless, total shipments to Cuba (including crude and products) in the first half of this year have declined by 19.5 percent to 83,130 barrels per day.
Cuba has received oil with preferable conditions from Venezuela as part of the eleven-year-old Petrocaribe alliance of fifteen countries, most of which are located in the Caribbean. Some 4 percent of Venezuelan oil exports are sent to Cuba and the country has largely been spared of the aftermath from PDVSA's growing cash flow problems, which already undermined oil supplies to countries in the region, including Petrocaribe members Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
The Venezuelan oil industry has been hampered by several factors such as the low price of crude, strong reliance on a weakened power grid system and a lengthy drought. Despite a decline in production, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on 22 May reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Petrocaribe.
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“In today's world, there are huge economic threats against us and we might feel that uncertainty could prevail. However, we are fully convinced that in the last 10 years, PetroCaribe has clearly demonstrated that it is only together that we can achieve development and happiness for our people,” Maduro said at the time.
Venezuela’s oil woes have also affected relations with neighboring Colombia after the Maduro regime last August ordered the closing of the border. The government claimed that the move was needed to combat crime and smuggling in the border region. Yet the measure halted the flow of basic goods and medicine to a Venezuelan state facing shortages and long lines at supermarkets.
An estimated 35,000 people flocked into the Colombian city of Cucuta on 10 June after the border was reopened during a twelve-hour period. Supermarket and store shelves where emptied by the mid-morning hours, as reported by PressTV.
By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com
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Erwin Cifuentes is a Contributing Editor for Southern Pulse Info where he focuses on politics, economics and security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean.…