Venezuelas PDVSA mulling force majeure on oil exports - sources

Venezuelas PDVSA mulling force majeure on oil exports - sources”

Venezuela is nearly a month behind in shipping crude to customers from its main oil export port, according to Reuters data, as chronic delays threaten to breach state-run PDVSA's crude supply contracts if they are not quickly cleared. PDVSA will still have to load vessels at its Jose port for transporting the crude to its proposed offshore loading facility.

Venezuelan ports - facing lack of spare parts, limited operation hours and a dwindling workforce - have struggled to handle the increasing number of tankers, leaving customers with growing delays and unfulfilled supply contracts. Additional costs for completing the transfer also contributed to the refusals.

PDVSA has been using sanctions imposed on the company by U.S. President Donald Trump as a rationale for the change, according to one of the sources. The measure also has been taken to avoid further cargo seizures, after Conoco won temporary court orders retaining two vessels near Aruba in May.

The vessel, which has not yet set sail, had been waiting since February to load, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data. The company so far has refused to accept the new terms, said an employee who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Traders and shippers were skeptical that the transfers would succeed in easing the bottlenecks.

In January, the government arrested several managers at Petro-Piar, which is a joint venture between Chevron and state-owned oil company PDVSA, and charged the executives with embezzlement and conspiracy tied to the illegal manipulation of production figures.

"Now we will continue with an economic counteroffensive, the most difficult thing... we are going to win this battle for economic peace, for stability, for prosperity, and we are going to go the length in the fight against the criminal economy", Maduro said.

President Nicolas Maduro ordered the new management of PDVSA to increase crude output by 1 million bpd this year, but production has not turned around. But PDVSA is pushing ahead over customer doubts given the congestion at its ports and need to complete sales that are the lifeblood of the OPEC member.

In April, PDVSA shipped 1.49 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude and fuels to its customers, 665,000 bpd below the 2.15 million contracted, according to the documents. The firm shorted deliveries to 12 of 14 major customers with long-term crude supply contracts, the records show.

The lack of export and storage terminals, especially those with deep water docks to load large vessels bounded for Asia, has forced PDVSA to divert tankers to Venezuela in recent weeks.

Venezuela's crude exports fell 6 percent in May to 1.168 million bpd following U.S. ConocoPhillips' (COP.N) legal actions to seize PDVSA's assets in four Caribbean islands, according to Reuters data.

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