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Venezuela’s main oil terminal, Jose, suffered disruptions in operations on Tuesday after a break in a pipeline had led to a crude spill, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the incident and shipping operators.
According to Reuters’ sources, the spill was likely caused by a break in the pipeline connecting the Jose oil terminal and a single buoy mooring (SBM) facility that is being used by crude tankers to load oil for exports.
The pipeline has the capacity to ship 32,000 bpd of crude to the SBM facility.
The size and amount of the spill could not be confirmed by any of the sources Reuters contacted, but operators have told the agency that no tankers had been docking at the SBM facility at the time when the incident occurred. It is unclear how loading and unloading of oil have been affected.
This is not the first such incident at the Jose terminal this year. Last month, one of three docks at Jose halted shipping operations after an oil spill took place while loading an India-bound tanker, union and shipping sources said to Reuters.
Referring to Tuesday’s spill, one shipping operator told Reuters that “the spill on the coast is complex”.
The Jose terminal has suffered delays in loading of crude in recent weeks, due to unscheduled maintenance at one of the docks, which has surely added further pressure on struggling cash-strapped Venezuelan oil company PDVSA that has been barely avoiding default.
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So strained are PDVSA’s finances that the shortage of cash reduces its ability to import refined products as it falls short on bills to suppliers. PDVSA needs to import refined products to dilute its heavy crude oil, but without enough cash, tankers are sitting at ports unable to unload their cargoes.
Venezuela’s economic crisis is worsening, and now even gasoline is scarce in the country with the world’s largest proved crude oil reserves.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.