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Top U.S. Refiner: Venezuela Sanctions Are Not Disrupting Refining

Refiner Venezuela

The U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry have not had a significant impact on the operations of the largest U.S. refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp, chairman and chief executive officer Gary Heminger said at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston.

According to Heminger, Marathon Petroleum had seen sanctions coming a long time ago and Venezuelan crude oil was a small percentage of the millions of barrels of oil the company buys every day, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Most of the U.S. refiners have been reducing purchases of Venezuelan oil for some time, Heminger noted.

On the other hand, Venezuela’s crude oil exports have been plunging over the past two years because of its plummeting production and also because part of Venezuelan oil is being shipped to countries like Russia and China as a repayment for loans that Moscow and Beijing have extended to Venezuela or its state oil firm PDVSA.  

Similar sweeping sanctions against Venezuela would have had a significant impact five years ago, but this is not the case today, the Houston Chronicle quoted Heminger as saying at the conference.

Shortly after the U.S. imposed the sanctions on Venezuela at the end of January, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that the sanctions were unlikely to have a significant impact on the refinery runs of the U.S. refiners. U.S. imports of crude oil from Venezuela have been falling in recent years, and U.S. refiners have been replacing heavy crude from Venezuela with heavy crude grades from other sources, the EIA said.

Commenting on the new sulfur content regulations by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as of January 1, 2020, Marathon Petroleum’s Heminger said that the U.S. refining industry is fully prepared for the processing of more low-sulfur fuels.

Torbjörn Törnqvist, CEO at trading house Gunvor, said in October last year that the new rules would surely create an initial confusion, but in the end the big overall winner from IMO will be the United States.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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