HOUSTON (Reuters) – Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA has resumed crude imports for its 335,000-barrel-per-day Isla refinery in the Caribbean island of Curacao after a seven-month pause, as it seeks to turn around falling fuel output, according to internal PDVSA documents.
PDVSA, which supplies the bulk of Venezuela’s export revenue, is increasingly in need of foreign crude as chronic underinvestment slashes its own output, leaving it short of crude to refine and blend.
The increased activity at Curacao comes as more suppliers are accepting oil swaps as a solution to the company’s lack of dollars, according to the documents. Cash-strapped PDVSA is increasingly giving its own crude and products away to obtain some of the barrels its refining network needs.
Refining problems due to outages and lack of oil have caused intermittent fuel shortages in the OPEC-member nation. The shrinking crude output and exports have not only cut its ability to pay cash for imported oil, but also to buy the food, medicine and supplies the country needs.
PDVSA’s oil purchases – typically used for refining and blending its heavy crude for export markets – declined to almost none during the second half of last year as the company used most of its cash to pay bondholders and avoid a default.