Venezuela

Venezuela falls behind on oil-for-loan deals with China, Russia

FILE PHOTO: Oil workers weld a pipeline at PDVSA's Jose Antonio Anzoategui industrial complex in the state of Anzoategui, Venezuela, April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Oil workers weld a pipeline at PDVSA’s Jose Antonio Anzoategui industrial complex in the state of Anzoategui, Venezuela, April 15, 2015.

Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA, has fallen months behind on shipments of crude and fuel under oil-for-loan deals with China and Russia, according to internal company documents reviewed by Reuters.

The delayed shipments to such crucial political allies and trading partners – which together have extended Venezuela at least $55 billion (£43.9 billion) in credit – provide new insight into PDVSA’s operational failures and their crippling impact on the country’s unraveling socialist economy.

Because oil accounts for almost all of Venezuela’s export revenue, PDVSA’s crisis extends to a citizenry suffering through triple-digit inflation and food shortages reminiscent of the waning days of the Soviet Union.

The total worth of the late cargoes to state-run Chinese and Russian firms is about $750 million, according to a Reuters analysis of the PDVSA documents.

At the end of January, PDVSA was late on nearly 10 million barrels of refined products that the company owes the firms – with shipments delayed by as much as 10 months, according to the documents. It also failed to make timely deliveries of another 3.2 million barrels of crude shipments to China’s state-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

For a graphic detailing the delayed cargoes, see: tmsnrt.rs/2keq9Kr

Shipments to China and Russia are critical for PDVSA’s financial health because firms from the two countries purchase about a third of the PDVSA’s total oil and fuel exports. The administration of Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro has for years relied on credit from the two nations, particularly China, to finance infrastructure and social investment in Venezuela.

PDVSA did not respond to requests for comment. Venezuela’s Petroleum Ministry declined to comment.

During the decade-long oil boom that ended in 2014, Venezuela borrowed nearly $50 billion from China that it agreed to pay back in crude and fuel deliveries to state-run Chinese firms. Venezuela was the seventh largest crude supplier to China in 2016 and the largest in Latin America.

Russia’s state-run Rosneft (ROSN.MM) lent at least $5 billion under similar arrangements, but the details of those deals have not been disclosed.

Now, PDVSA is struggling to make good on those promises. A total of 45 cargoes bound for Russian and Chinese companies are late for a variety of reasons, according to internal operational reports about shipments of crude and refined products.

The problems include operational mishaps, such as refining outages and delayed cleaning of tanker hulls, and financial disputes with service providers owed money by PDVSA.

The backlog of delayed or canceled fuel cargoes represents about three months of the 88,000 barrels per day (bpd) of jet fuel and diesel that PDVSA must…

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