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Venezuela’s cash-strapped PDVSA may have barely avoided default last year, but its finances seem to have further worsened. More than 4 million barrels of Venezuelan crude oil and fuels are stuck in tankers in the Caribbean because Venezuela’s state-run oil firm cannot afford to pay for cleaning dirty tankers and port inspections, Reuters reports, quoting internal company reports and Reuters tanker tracking data.
According to PDVSA’s trade documents and Reuters shipping data, some dozen tankers full of around 1.4 million barrels of crude oil, diesel, fuel oil, gasoline, and LPG were anchored - as of Wednesday - in Venezuelan and Caribbean waters and were waiting to be cleaned.
In addition, another 11 vessels full of oil and oil products have been retained or embargoed by port authorities, maritime agencies and inspection firms because PDVSA has not paid its bills. The 11 tankers and a few smaller vessels held for other operational delays contain a total of 2.9 million barrels of crude and fuels, Reuters data showed.
The dirty tankers were stained with crude oil due to leaks at the Bajo Grande terminal, sources close to the operation told Reuters.
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Since maritime laws do not allow dirty tankers to travel through international waters, and PDVSA’s debts to cleaning services operators have been piling up, those vessels have been circulating Venezuela’s waters and spread the problem to other terminals, including Puerto la Cruz, La Salina, Cardon and Amuay.
PDVSA brings almost all of the export revenues for the equally near-broke Venezuela. Low oil prices have ravaged the oil company, which is the only U.S.-dollar cash cow for the Socialist regime. Last October, PDVSA barely escaped bankruptcy, and more recently, Fitch has pointed out that Venezuela’s state-owned firm, which has $13 billion in high-yield debt, is probably most in danger of default.
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.