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Fuel-Starved Haiti In Crisis As Venezuela Deal Dies

The poorest nation in the Western hemisphere has seen its fuel supply increasingly challenged since a program designed by Venezuela to supply fuel and gain influence in the Caribbean collapsed last year amid the raging Venezuelan crisis.  

Haiti had received almost 70 percent of its fuel from Venezuela at the peak of the so-called Petrocaribe program, under which Venezuela offered very attractive financing to Caribbean nations to buy its refined oil products.

However, after the Petrocaribe program collapsed last year, Haiti was forced to turn to international markets for its fuel supply. But without the Petrocaribe financing for oil, the Caribbean nation has been struggling to find enough U.S. dollars to pay for the product deliveries, and suppliers aren’t having it.

Physical oil supply and trading company Novum Energy Trading Corp suspended earlier this year fuel cargoes bound for Haiti because of overdue payments—and this has exacerbated the fuel and energy crisis in the Caribbean country.

Novum had been supplying fuels to Haiti via the Bureau of Monetization of Programs and Development Aid (BMPAD) for more than four years.

“In recent months, regretfully the payment performance of BMPAD has deteriorated significantly,” Novum Energy’s chief financial officer Chris Scott said in a statement in January 2019.

Earlier this month, Novum Energy updated the market on its operations in Haiti, saying that payments are “coming few and far between.”

Although Novum Energy has received a small portion of the overdue and outstanding invoices, “the remaining US$39.7m of overdue invoices are now 60 days late (which is on top of the 45 days of open credit Novum grants BMPAD),” it said.  

Because of the lack of regular payments, Novum’s vessel MT Nord Innovation, carrying 150,000 barrels of gasoline, has remained outside of Haiti since February 27, “awaiting payments and a formal schedule of when we can expect to receive the remaining amounts outstanding,” Scott said on April 4.

Meanwhile, Haiti has been gripped in 2019 by anti-government protests, with protesters demanding investigations into alleged misuse of the funds from the Petrocaribe program, among other things.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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