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Crude oil exports from Venezuela last month topped 800,000 barrels daily, which was the second-highest monthly export rate since the start of the year.
Most of the exports went to China, Reuters reported.
The increase in exports came on the back of a recovery in production, mainly in the Orinoco Belt which is home to most of Venezuela’s oil reserves.
The output at the joint ventures between PDVSA and Chevron, however, slipped in September, from 147,000 bpd in August to 145,000 bpd, LSEG data cited by Reuters showed. Chevron hopes to boost this to 200,000 bpd this year.
The report, which cited documents from PDVSA, also noted that higher exports have resulted in lower inventories of the country’s flagship Merey 16 crude blend, which could have a negative effect on exports in the coming months.
Over the first half of the year, Venezuela’s oil exports averaged some 670,000 barrels daily, which was close to 15% higher than the average for the first half of 2022.
The biggest buyer of Venezuelan crude is still China, which is also the biggest investor in Venezuelan crude. Since 2007, Beijing has poured some $60 billion in oil-backed loans into Venezuela.
Despite the loans, the country’s oil production has been decimated by underinvestment, mismanagement, and U.S. sanctions, falling to the lowest in 50 years last year, at 700,000 bpd. This year, production has improved and so have exports.
For August, PDVSA reported an average daily production rate of 820,000 barrels, an increase of 10,000 bpd from July, and a bigger increase from the average 785,000 bpd for the first eight months of the year.
Exports in August, however, fell sharply due to outages at two heavy crude upgraders where the heavy crude is blended with liquid fuel to make it suitable for loading on tankers.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com