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Venezuela has sent 1 million barrels of crude to Cuba despite pressure from the United States to suspend these shipments, Reuters reports citing a PDVSA document as well as shipping data.
The U.S. has been trying to plug Venezuela’s oil exports through sanctions on PDVSA, which have effectively stopped the flow of Venezuelan oil to U.S. refiners, and through a suspension of diluent exports to Venezuela. The latest was sanctioning 23 vessels and two companies involved in shipments of oil to Cuba.
However, as TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani noted soon after these sanctions were announced, 31 of the 35 sanctioned vessels were not tankers at all but tug boats, as per the official list released by the Department of Treasury.
Reuters noted in its report that the two tankers used to make the latest shipment to Cuba were not on the sanctioned vessels list. One carried 400,000 barrels of crude and the other 600,000 barrels.
And that’s not all. Besides the two tankers en route to Cuba with crude oil, there are three more waiting to load refined products, also bound for the Caribbean island.
Despite dropping oil production, Venezuela’s still-standing government is adamant about honoring its barter deal with Cuba, which opposition leader Juan Guaido slammed as stealing and called for a suspension of shipments as the oil was more needed at home amid a string of devastating blackouts.
PDVSA, however, is under the control of military officials still loyal to the Maduro government, hence the continued shipments to Cuba, whose leader, Raul Castro has been equally adamant that the island will continue supporting its ideological ally.
Venezuela’s oil production fell sharply last month, by 289,000 bpd to below 1 million bpd—to 732,000 bpd in March, according to OPEC’s secondary sources cited in the latest edition of its closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.