HAVANA/HOUSTON May 9 Cuban exports of refined
oil products fell about 97 percent between 2013 and 2016,
according to a United Nations trade report released this week,
reflecting falling supplies from its political ally Venezuela.
The UN Comtrade annual report put the value of Cuban fuel
exports last year at $15.4 million, compared to more than $500
million in 2013. The amounts for 2015 and 2014, when oil prices
collapses, were $163.5 million and $336.8, respectively.
The figures were based on import data from reporting
countries, which may make them incomplete. The communist-ruled
Caribbean nation does not publish oil-related export
Cash-strapped Cuba reported its exports of goods, such as
oil products, nickel, sugar, tobacco products and
pharmaceuticals, fell by $1.5 billion in 2015 due to weak prices
and low production.
Exports of services, such as those provided by doctors and
other professionals, to oil-producing nations including
Venezuela, Angola, Algeria dropped by $1.3 billion in 2015,
plunging the Cuban economy into a recession the following year.
Cuba depends on socialist-ruled Venezuela for up to 70
percent of its energy needs, including re-exports. Havana gets
the oil as part of an exchange that sends thousands of Cuban
doctors and other professionals to Venezuela.
But a severe economic crisis in the South American nation
has led to a decline in oil-related supplies since 2014.
Cuba began rationing electricity and fuel to state companies
a year ago, and has experienced gasoline shortages more
recently. Diplomats, suppliers and joint venture partners report
the government has fallen behind on some payments.
In 2016, Cuba received 87,550 barrels per day (bpd) of
Venezuelan oil and fuels, 27 percent less than in 2015. In 2017,
shipments of fuels have declined further, according to internal
data, seen by Reuters, from Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA.
Cuba, in turn, has looked to Russia and others to try to
make up the shortfall.
A tanker with 249,000 barrels of refined fuel products from
Russia is due to arrive in Cuba on May 10, according to Reuters
shipping data and sources, bringing back memories of when the
Soviet Union supplied all of the island nation's energy needs.
Cuban oil products are blended and exported from the
Cienfuegos refinery, a Soviet-era joint venture facility with
PDVSA. The refinery was almost completely halted in 2016 but may
soon resume some operations.
(Reporting by Marc Frank and Marianna Parraga; Editing by Paul