British BP has shipped a U.S. crude cargo to PDVSA’s terminal in Curacao, the third one that the firm has sent since winning a tender along with China Oil last month to provide the Venezuelan state-run company with some 8 million barrels of light oil, according to sources and Reuters data.
Venezuela started regular crude purchases last year and since then it has been launching tenders on the open market for at least one monthly cargo. In March it decided to secure provisions for the whole second quarter, doubling crude imports to some 95,000 barrels per day (bpd).
The tanker NS Century chartered by BP loaded crude this week at Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, on the U.S. Gulf Coast and set sail to PDVSA’s Bullenbay terminal on the Caribbean island of Curacao. It is scheduled to arrive on April 28.
Another three tankers loaded with crude and dirty products loaded on the U.S. Gulf Coast are waiting to discharge at Bullenbay amid a backlog of vessels around some PDVSA’s ports due to equipment failure at its main oil terminal, Jose.
The Aframax tanker Krymsk, sent by BP as first delivery from the light crude tender, has been waiting to discharge since April 6. Tankers Angelica Schulte, which arrived in Curacao on April 17, and Paramount Hatteras, which arrived on Friday, also have not discharged.
A shipper close to the sale said one of the cargoes could contain vacuum gasoil (VGO) for PDVSA’s Isla refinery in Curacao.
BP must deliver 2.7 million barrels of U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude to PDVSA in April in cargoes of 550,000 barrels each, and it also will provide 2.7 million barrels of Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude in May-June.
For its part, China Oil, which last week delivered its first WTI crude cargo to PDVSA after a nine-day wait, must send 2.7 million barrels of U.S. crude, according to the tender’s terms.
But deliveries might not be made on time if delays persist. As of April 22, 16 tankers were waiting to load and discharge at Jose port and other 14 vessels were anchored around Curacao. Wait time has double to at least seven days, from a standard of three to four days, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data.
PDVSA has said Jose port is working without delays.