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Venezuelan PDVSA expects a sharp decline in oil production this month with the four upgraders operating in the country running a lot lower than capacity, Reuters reports citing company documents and sources close to the company.
The four upgraders in Venezuela turn its superheavy crude into liquid crude that can be loaded on tankers and exported. A string of blackouts in the last few weeks, however, have caused extended outages at crucial oil facilities including the upgraders. These have a combined capacity of 700,000 bpd.
Now, two of these, Petropiar and Petromonagas, have been idle since early March when the first outage hit sanction-stricken Venezuela. The two upgraders are operated by joint ventures between PDVSA and Chevron and Rosneft, respectively.
The other two—Petrocedeno, co-owned by French Total and Norway’s Equinor and PDVSA’s 100-percent owned Petrosanfelix—shut down in late March. Petrocedeno and Petropiar, however, were in the process of being restarted, the documents seen by Reuters revealed.
Despite the upgrader outages, Venezuela exported a solid amount of crude last month, with TankerTrackers.com noting the fast recovery in exports after the outages caused a slump to 650,000 bpd at one point. The average for the month, according to the data provider, stood at a little over 898,000 bpd, about 100,000 bpd lower than the February figure.
The recovery is indeed remarkable because the power outages that crippled an already ailing country also hit Venezuela’s main export terminal, the port of Jose. The terminal remained closed for several days.
Meanwhile, Washington plans to further tighten the sanction noose around Caracas’ neck. Earlier this week, a U.S. official told Reuters “(We will) continue to take action to ensure Venezuela’s energy resources are preserved for the legitimate government of interim president Juan Guaido, for the people of Venezuela, and the reconstruction of a country destroyed through mismanagement and corruption.”
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.