| June 6
June 6 Venezuela's 187,000-barrel-per-day Puerto
la Cruz refinery is running at 16 percent of capacity, mainly
due to a lack of light oil as state-run PDVSA ships a portion of
its Mesa 30 crude to Cuba and Curacao, according to internal
trade reports and workers.
Oil company PDVSA in March resumed exports of
Mesa 30 to Cuba after an eight-month pause. It has shipped
between 850,000 barrels and 1.4 million barrels per month to the
Caribbean island since then, documents show.
Mesa 30 - one of Venezuela's lightest crudes - is used by
PDVSA and its partners to dilute the extra heavy oil produced in
the vast Orinoco Belt and to feed several domestic refineries.
But with its oil output falling, the company is struggling to
satisfy its domestic network and its foreign clients, according
to internal sources and reports.
"Diverting crude is one of the causes of the refinery's
status, but there is also lack of maintenance," said Jose Bodas,
a union leader at Puerto la Cruz who last month warned about the
facility's low processing.
Workers in May failed to restart Puerto la Cruz's catalytic
cracker due to lack of spare parts, Bodas added.
Only one of Puerto la Cruz's three crude distillation units
is working after the refinery partially resumed operations last
week, a worker from the facility told Reuters.
The refinery is producing about 29,500 bpd of gasoline,
diesel and residual fuels, another worker said.
Venezuela's refining network has been running at historic
lows this quarter, causing intermittent gasoline shortages in
the OPEC-member country and in Cuba. Only PDVSA's smallest
refinery, the 146,000-bpd El Palito, has increased output since
UNPAID CRUDE FOR ISLA
The 335,000-bpd Isla refinery in Curacao, which PDVSA uses
as an auxiliary facility, also has struggled to increase output
since one of its four crude distillation units suffered serious
damage during a fire two weeks ago.
"Isla is putting its thermal cracker unit in service to be
used for crude distillation... so it can process 40 percent of
the crude bound for the crude distillation unit number 3," the
refinery said in a statement late on Monday.
The refinery also will process heavy crude at its
distillation unit number two, it added.
Isla produces fuel oil for export, mainly for delivery to
Chinese firms as payment for loans to Venezuela. The fire has
contributed to PDVSA's low fuel oil shipments, which this year
average 60,000 bpd versus 165,000 bpd in 2016, according to the
Two 500,000-barrel cargoes of British BP supplied
U.S. light sweet crude arrived in Curacao's Bullenbay terminal
in May to feed Isla's since damaged crude unit. PDVSA is
considering diverting the oil to its Amuay refinery on
Venezuela's western coast, one of the internal documents says.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston, Mircely Guanipa in
Punto Fijo, Venezuela and Sailu Urribarri in Oranjestad; Editing
by Dan Grebler)