Caracas (The Times Groupe)- Venezuela began importing Iranian heavy oil to feed domestic refineries, documents released by the state-controlled oil company PDVSA showed, a deal that expands a swap agreement signed last year by the U.S. sanctioned countries.
As part of a swap deal last year, PDVSA imported Iranian condensate to dilute and process its extra heavy oil for export. As a result, Venezuelan crude is being shipped through the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
The heavy crude from Iran, which is similar in quality to Venezuela’s Mesa 30 crude, will augment crude oil fed to PDVSA’s refineries.
Venezuela has received Iranian equipment to revamp its refineries as part of cooperation pacts in recent years. The 146,000-barrel-per-day El Palito refinery is restarting a crude distillation unit this week after extensive repairs and upgrading that relied on equipment imported from Iran.This week, El Palito’s 146,000-barrel-per-day refinery will restart a crude distillation unit following extensive repairs and upgrades that used equipment from Iran.
PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment immediately.
Javad Owji, the Iranian oil minister, traveled to Venezuela last week to meet with President Nicolas Maduro and discuss trade agreements with his counterpart, Tareck El Aissami.
More than 200,000 barrels of heavy crude from Iran were delivered in mid-April to Venezuela’s second-largest refinery, the 310,000-bpd Cardon refinery. Another 400,000 barrels of Iranian oil, which arrived on the very large crude carrier (VLCC), Dino I, is discharging this week at Jose port, according to the documents.
A document indicates that the Dino I is scheduled to sail later this month carrying Venezuelan fuel oil for NIOC’s Naftiran Intertrade Co.
PDVSA continues to receive condensate from the Middle Eastern country. TankerTrackers.com reports that Venezuela-owned Maximo Gorki is scheduled to discharge about 2 million barrels of condensate at Jose, and Iran-flagged Derya is in Venezuelan waters waiting to deliver its cargo.
Venezuela struggles to source medium and light grades as its oil output becomes heavier, resulting in limited production and intermittent shortages of motor fuels.
Furthermore, to transform its extra heavy oil output into exportable grades, the country increasingly needs lighter crudes or refined products.