A rare tanker carrying Venezuelan heavy crude unloaded in the Dutch-controlled island of Curacao over the weekend, according to Caribbean shipping sources.
The 155,000t Liberia-flagged Diamondway docked in Bullen Bay on 12 October after departing from the western Venezuelan terminal of Amuay, according to ship-tracking data. The bill of lading indicates that the cargo is Hamaca crude with a quality of 18°API and 0.175pc water, one of the shipping sources said.
The Curacao Port Authority harbor roster indicates that the vessel is scheduled to depart Bullen Bay on 18 October.
Venezuela’s national oil company PdV operates Bullen Bay and the stalled Isla refinery in Curacao under a long-term lease that expires in December. But the company has largely abandoned the facilities this year.
Curacao is part of PdV’s once-bustling Dutch Caribbean logistical network. The islands had permitted PdV to store and transship cargoes destined for longer-haul destinations.
When it was operating normally, the Isla refinery processed about 220,000 b/d of Venezuelan crude.
Escalating US oil sanctions on Venezuela and the threat that PdV cargoes and tankers could be seized by the company’s creditors — as happened repeatedly in recent years — have suppressed Venezuelan oil operations in Curacao and other Dutch Caribbean islands.
Curacao’s government is currently negotiating a new operating lease with refining and trading company Klesch. The prime minister’s office declined to comment on the new cargo.
The tanker now docked at the deepwater Bullen Bay terminal is owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping, headquartered in Singapore. The company could not be reached for comment.
The cargo has raised speculation in Curacao about a possible restart of the 335,000 b/d refinery, which has been mostly off line for about two years because of a lack of feedstock, maintenance and utility services, creating hardship for the island’s economy.
But the shipment is more likely to be part of PdV’s effort to clear out sanctions-related export bottlenecks at its Venezuelan terminals, a senior PdV official not directly tied to commercial operations tells Argus. Neither PdV nor its Isla refining unit has commented on the cargo.
The Venezuelan oil company has flooded Cuba with crude and oil products in recent weeks, helping to free up storage in Venezuela and allowing heavy oil production and blending operations to restart at partial levels.
Cuba’s government is a close political ally of Caracas.
Bron: Argus Media