Venezuela has suspended new crude oil shipments to Europe under an oil-for-debt deal, and has asked Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Repsol to provide it with fuel in exchange for future cargoes.
Venezuela’s oil company, PDVSA, is reported to no longer be interested in the oil-for-debt deals that the US State Department authorized in May, which allowed the state company to resume shipments to Europe after a two-year suspension caused by US sanctions.
Washington authorized the shipments as long as cargo proceeds were used to pay off accumulated debt PDVSA owed to joint ventures with Eni and Repsol.
A person involved in the business of cargoes that were previously delivered to Europe, said: “PDVSA wants to go back to oil swaps, and that is not possible yet. There’s zero interest in the oil-for-debt deals.”
Venezuelan oil shipments, particularly those sent to refineries in Spain, have helped Europe reduce purchases of Russian oil since the invasion of Ukraine. But the deal’s terms have not provided the cash or fuel needed by PDVSA, whose own refineries are struggling to produce gasoline and diesel after years of underinvestment and a lack of repairs.
PDVSA, Eni, Repsol and the US State Department did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
According to PDVSA’s shipping schedules, there are no loading windows assigned to Eni or Repsol for Europe-bound cargoes in August, even though stocks of diluted crude oil (DCO) at the Jose port rose to almost five MM barrels as of August 8.
According to sources, PDVSA wants to receive fuel in exchange for its crude oil, while using a portion of the cargoes’ value to offset billions of dollars of debts to joint venture partners, including Chevron, Eni and Repsol.
The deal reshuffle could help the Venezuelan company reanimate its Orinoco Belt extra heavy oil operations, which need imported diluents such as heavy naphtha, and ease the country’s motor fuel deficit.
Since 2021, PDVSA has relied mostly on Iranian diluents to turn its extra heavy crude into exportable grades.
Since June, Eni has received a total of 3.6 m barrels of Venezuelan diluted crude oil (DCO), according to the PDVSA’s documents and tanker tracking data. Most of that volume was then delivered by Eni to Repsol, which has a larger capacity for refining the South American country’s heavy sour crude grades.
Josu Jon Imaz , Repsol’s CEO, said in late July that the return of cargoes from Venezuela was “good news” for its refineries, as the quality of those crudes matches perfectly with its refining system.
Resumption of oil shipments to Europe helped PDVSA boost sales in June and July, with overall exports reaching 545,000 bpd in the 60-day period, according to the documents and vessel monitoring.
Operational issues later offset the export increase, but PDVSA plans to restart a third heavy crude upgrader at the Petromonagas joint venture, which would boost crude production and export capacity. In July, it resumed operations at an oil-blending station and two upgraders that had been hit by power and gas outages.
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