Venezuela’s lack of dredging causes trouble for Chevron’s heavy oil exports

Venezuela’s lack of dredging causes trouble for Chevron’s heavy oil exports

HOUSTON/MARACAY, Venezuela, Jan 4 (Reuters) – A shipping channel is slowing Chevron Corp’s ( CVX.N ) efforts to load tankers at one of its four Venezuelan joint ventures and bring heavy crude to the States United, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Washington in November authorized the last major U.S. firm still operating in Venezuela to restore lost production and begin exporting oil as a way to encourage talks between Nicolas Maduro’s government and the country’s political opposition.

But a plan to quickly move heavy oil from inventories at the Petroboscan joint venture with state company PDVSA is facing delays because of a lack of dredging in the Lake Maracaibo navigation channel, the people said.

Dredging is often needed to clear the bed of waterways by removing mud, weeds and debris so that ships can transit.

Shallow waters in the canal caused an unrelated Chevron vessel carrying scrap metal to capsize in December. Petroboscan has instructed ships to limit their current after loading at the Bajo Grande oil terminal.

The Lake Maracaibo channel in the country’s northwest is suitable for loading tankers with a draft of up to 9.8 meters, one of the people said. This means that around 250,000 barrels of Boscan heavy oil can move at any one time through the channel that connects Bajo Grande to the Caribbean Sea.

In a sign that Chevron expects to expand operations quickly, the oil producer has begun advertising for Venezuelan contract administrators and cargo planners. It is recruiting to restore long-dormant operations, particularly for its marketing and trading divisions, which will handle oil exports for its U.S. and other refineries.

Chevron began preparations to revive operations at its joint ventures in Venezuela last year as it filed a license application with the US Treasury Department following an agreement with PDVSA. The company wants to assemble a trading team to market oil from Venezuela and expand its role in the four projects.

PDVSA and Chevron did not respond to requests for comment.


Small tankers coming from Bajo Grande are moving western Venezuelan crude to a ship-to-ship transfer zone along the country’s coast, where they fill larger vessels. The first Chevron cargo loaded this way has not yet left for the United States, according to people and Refinitiv Eikon tracking data.

Chevron has chartered three vessels for Venezuela: the UACC Eagle, which will unload a US cargo of heavy oil at PDVSA’s Jose port later this week; Caribbean Voyager, which is loading 500,000 barrels of Hamaca crude for Chevron’s refinery in Pasacagoula, Mississippi; and Kerala, which arrived in the Lake Maracaibo channel on Tuesday to load Boskan crude oil, according to shipping documents and Eikon data.

Italian oil firm Eni ( ENI.MI ) is also planning to take a shipment of Venezuelan crude this month under a deal it began last year to get Venezuelan oil in exchange for pending debt repayments, according to a person familiar with the matter. particularly familiar with this matter.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Marianna Parraga

Thomson Reuters

Focused on energy-related sanctions, corruption and money laundering with 20 years of experience covering the Latin American oil and gas industries. Born in Venezuela and based in Houston, she is the author of the book “Oro Rojo” about Venezuela’s troubled state company PDVSA and the mother of three sons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *