Venezuela’s PDVSA readies diesel cargo to Cuba after 7-month pause

Venezuela doubles its oil exports, but reduces its deliveries to Cuba
HAVANA, April 19th Venezuela’s PDVSA is preparing to ship a 190,000-barrel cargo of diesel to Cuba, a document from the state-run oil firm showed,a move to help its closest political ally stave off fuel shortages and prevent summer electricity blackouts.

The Communist-ruled island, which depends on imports to cover more than half of its fuel demand, has not received any Venezuelan diesel since September, forcing costly purchases on the open market. Earlier this year, PDVSA exported jet fuel and gasoline to Cuba, tanker tracking data and documents showed.

Cuba has struggled this year with a diesel deficit for power generation and vehicles as imports from Venezuela have remained below historical levels and high prices have made purchases from other suppliers almost unaffordable.The Cuba-flagged tanker Delsa, chartered by state-run company Cubametales, is loading 200,000 barrels of fuel oil and 190,000 barrels of diesel destined for the Matanzas storage terminal, according to a PDVSA export schedule seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

PDVSA and Cuba’s information ministry did not reply to requests for comment.

Venezuela regularly provides crude to Cuba for refining and fuel oil for power generation. But due to its own limitations to producing motor fuels and U.S. sanctions, PDVSA has reduced refined product shipments to Cubametales since last year.

Crude processing at Venezuela’s refineries has stabilized in recent weeks at around 230,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to independent figures, a level well below its 1.3 million-bpd capacity.

Fuel shortages have added to Cuba’s struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and from U.S. sanctions. Waits at stations in Havana have eased, but public transportation has not returned to normal capacity, a situation attributed by analysts to less fuel availability and lack of parts and vehicles.

Venezuela’s re-exports of diesel to Cuba was among arguments used by Washington to suspend in 2020 the authorizations it had extended for the South American country’s oil-for-fuel swaps.