The lifeline of oil to Cuba from Mexico

The lifeline of oil to Cuba from Mexico

HAVANA, Feb. 28th. The Government of Mexico supplied Havana with 7,435,000 barrels of crude oil between 2023 and the first two months of 2024, of 350,000 loaded and shipped last week from the port of Pajaritos, which is equivalent to at least 537 million dollars, revealed the Energy Institute at the University of Texas.

Jorge Piñón, senior researcher at the academic center, told El Financiero that the Government of Mexico sends a tanker supplied with oil between two and three times a month, from Pajaritos, located in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, heading to Cuba, although they have also been detected Vessels that set sail from the port of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca or the port of Tampico.

“In the monitoring, we carried out, with the help of the Marine Vessel Tracking Services platform, we were able to document that in 2023 Mexico sent 5,465,000 barrels of oil to Cuba with a value of around 391 million dollars, while, in the first two months into 2024, 1,970,000 barrels have already been shipped with a value of 146 million dollars,” said Piñón.

The expert added that it is not clear whether the oil is being sold or donated. According to the media specialized in economic issues, it is a reality that the Cuban regime does not have the money to buy it, so it usually offers, in exchange for products, the sending of doctors, nurses and other professionals, or even vaccines.

“Cuba’s current oil demand is around 125,000 barrels per day, of which they can produce approximately 40,000 barrels per day, while Venezuela still sends them between 55,000 and 57,000 barrels per day, so Mexican oil helps them complete its demand, with approximately 24,000 barrels per day,” he said.

In Piñón’s opinion, “If Mexico were sending us this oil, Cuba would be suffering an even greater economic, social and political catastrophe.”

“In addition, Mexico is sending them its best oil, which is the Isthmus and the Olmeca, since they are light and medium crudes that can be processed in its Cienfuegos refinery; on the other hand, the Mayan oil, which is heavy, remains for Mexican refineries,” he added.

The most recent figures from Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) indicate that in January 2024, 951,000 barrels of crude oil were exported per day, of which 279,000 barrels per day were sold to countries on the American continent, that is, almost 30% of the total.

Monitoring by the University of Texas quantified that the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent the Government of Cuba a total of 865,000 barrels of oil in January, which would translate into about 28,000 barrels per day.

Although these figures represent 10% of oil exports destined for the market in America, it is unknown if PEMEX counts shipments to Cuba in its monthly report, since the company does not publish in a disaggregated manner the countries to which it sells oil.

The last ship to leave Mexico for Cuba with a cargo of 350,000 barrels of oil, on February 21, was the tanker Esperanza flying the Cuban flag.

Arturo Carranza, a specialist in the Mexican energy sector, quoted by El Financiero, said that, historically, crude oil exports to Cuba have been given in the form of donations, as support for Havana in the context of Washington’s embargo.

Carrazana recalled the controversy that arose last year over the announcement by the Mexican Foreign Ministry that the Government was seeking to “monetize” (commercialize) said operations. Under U.S. law, this “could represent a legal default,” he said.

Although the Island would be receiving about 129,000 barrels of oil per day in total, enough to cover its needs, Cubans are suffering prolonged blackouts. On Tuesday, the electrical impact was around 750MW during peak daytime hours, but during peak hours it exceeded 1,073.

The state-run Unión Eléctrica said that five of the six power generation plants rented by the Cuban authorities to the Turkish company Karadeniz Holding were turned off on Tuesday due to fuel shortages.