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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Venezuela Main Oil Port Shuts Down Amid Blackout

Venezuela’s largest oil-exporting terminal Jose is not working after a power outage that happened on Monday. Reuters reports the port has yet to resume normal operations, noting the last vessel to leave Jose did so on Sunday, bound for Russia.

“There is no electricity, everything is paralyzed,” a workers’ union leader told Reuters. School and work in Caracas were cancelled following the blackout, which was the second for the country in four weeks.

The first one was severe: it plunged the country into chaos and darkness, with no water supply in many parts of Venezuela. The Maduro government blamed the outage on a U.S. cyberattack while the opposition-dominated National Assembly decreed a suspension of oil exports to Cuba as the oil could be used better at home.

Like the first blackout, the second one shut down not just the Jose oil port but also crude oil upgraders that process heavy crude at the field into light crude. According to Reuters’ sources, this second outage, like the first one, was the result of years of neglect and underinvestment. This time, the outage affected several transmission lines, the sources said.

PDVSA, Venezuela’s battered state oil company, operates a total of four bitumen upgraders in the Orinoco Belt where most of its crude oil reserves are concentrated. It does so via joint ventures with Rosneft, Equinor, Total, and Chevron. The four facilities together have a capacity of 700,000 bpd of the extra heavy Venezuelan crude.

Restoring normal operation at the port of Jose is essential for PDVSA, whose production has fallen sharply since January when the U.S. slapped a new round of sanctions on Venezuela. Despite the fall, it needs to keep shipping crude to China and Russia under a set of loan deals that require it to repay the funds supplied by these two countries in oil.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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