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Venezuela diverts oil cargoes to small Cuban ports as terminal fire continues

Thursday, 11 August 2022 | 00:00

Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA diverted two crude cargoes set to discharge at Cuba’s Matanzas terminal, Refinitiv Eikon data and company documents showed on Tuesday, as a fire that devastated 40% of the island’s main storage facility continued for a fifth day.

Lightning on Friday set one crude storage tank at the 2.4-million-barrel facility ablaze, later spreading to three others, resulting in massive power outages.

As most of Venezuela’s oil shipments to Cuba typically go to Matanzas – a key facility for distributing domestic crude and for receiving imports – the accident has forced PDVSA to find other ports to unload.
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Cuba-flagged tanker Maria Cristina, which was discharging Venezuelan crude at Matanzas when the fire started, is heading to Santiago to deliver its remaining cargo, according to the Eikon data and documents.

Another Venezuelan crude cargo, onboard Cuba-flagged tanker Vilma, was diverted on Saturday to the Antillas port, where it is now waiting to discharge, data and documents also showed.

Matanzas is the only Cuban terminal with capacity to receive large tankers rated for 100,000 tonnes of deadweight or greater, so vessels waiting around Cuba’s smaller ports might take longer to discharge or require ship-to-ship transfers.

PDVSA did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Other two vessels covering the Venezuela-Cuba route, the Lourdes and the Esperanza, this week are waiting to load crude at PDVSA’s Jose port. They had been scheduled to discharge at Matanzas, the documents showed.
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Mexico and Venezuela have sent crews specialized in combating fuel blazes to Cuba, planeloads of chemicals and a firefighting ship. Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel on the weekend said a fire of such magnitude would be very difficult to control in Cuba, which lacks needed equipment and supplies.

Venezuela, which is Cuba’s primary source of imported crude and fuel, sent about 57,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the island in the first seven months of this year, in line with year-earlier volumes.

The shipments arrive onboard shrinking fleets of old tankers owned by Cuba or Venezuela.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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