Venezuela’s PDVSA produced between 926,000 and 965,000 bpd of crude oil last month, up by as much as 20 percent from the previous month when the average was 761,000 bpd, unnamed sources close to the company told Reuters.
The output of superheavy oil in the Orinoco belt where most of Venezuela’s oil wealth is concentrated averaged 465,000-502,000 bpd last month.
Exports of crude were even higher, the sources said. These exceeded 1 million bpd in November, including crude oil and fuels. Internal reports showed the increase was thanks to a rebound in shipments to India, Reuters reported earlier this month.
Bloomberg reported in early November, citing shipping data, that Venezuela had loaded almost 11 million barrels of crude in just the first 11 days of the month, which was more than twice as much as it did in the same period last month. Most of the oil seemed to have gone to India and China, with half of the vessels transporting it turning their transponders off to avoid detection.
Earlier this year, under U.S. pressure, most Venezuelan oil buyers pulled back from doing business with PDVSA. In October, however, India’s Reliance Industries decided to restart its direct trade with the Venezuelan oil company, which immediately affected shipments. Spain’s Repsol also braved the U.S. in restarting the buying of heavy crude from Venezuela.
The increase in production and exports is noteworthy not just because it suggests Venezuela, largely thanks to its production joint venture partners, including Rosneft, CNPC, and Chevron, is more resilient to U.S. sanctions than some may have believed. It is noteworthy because it also suggests there is healthy demand for Venezuelan heavy despite the looming IMO 2020 fuel emission rules due to come into effect next month. These would require shippers to use low-sulfur fuel, which is widely expected to affect heavy crude demand negatively.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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