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PDVSA restarts Petrocedeno heavy crude upgrader


By Newsdesk-Venezuela / Platts

Petroleumworld 02 27 2019

Venezuelan state PDVSA has restarted its 202,000 b/d Petrocedeno extra heavy crude upgrader at 118,000 b/d, or 58.4% of capacity, despite the country's deficit of naphtha, a company technical report seen Tuesday showed Tuesday.

According to previous PDVSA technical reports, the production at the Petrocedeno joint venture (PDVSA 60% and Total/Equinor 40%) was stopped February 10, when inventories of naphtha ran out. Naphtha is used to lighten the extra heavy crudes produced in the Orinoco Belt region.

PDVSA operates four heavy crude upgraders: the 120,000 b/d Petro San Felix; the 120,000 b/d Petromonagas, a joint venture with Russia's rosneft; 202,000 b/d; Petrocedeno, a joint venture of Total and Equinor and the 190,000 b/d Petropiar, a JV of PDVSA with Chevron, according to recent PDVSA figures.

All four upgraders are located in the southern part of Venezuela's Anzoategui state. The Sinovensa mixing plant is located in Morichal, Monagas state.

The technical report said that the upgrader Petropiar is operating at 150,000 b/d, or 78.9% of its capacity.

The Petro San Felix upgrader has been shut since June, but PDVSA expects to restart it on March 15.

Updates on the Petromonagas upgrader and Sinovensa were not available in the technical report.

Upgraded crude production by PDVSA and its international partners at five upgrader facilities has been declining from its maximum capacity of 762,000 b/d capacity because of the lack of extra heavy crude as naphtha and light crude. The naphtha deficit reaches 62,000 b/d to maintain the production of upgrader crude, according to the technical report.

The lack of diluent is threatening to push Venezuela's already declining crude production even lower. S&P Global Platts estimates Venezuela pumped 1.16 million b/d in January, down from 2.35 million b/d two years prior.

US sanctions on PDVSA amount to a de facto ban on US imports of Venezuelan crude, and a prohibition on US exports of roughly 120,000 b/d of diluent used to blend heavy Orinoco Belt crude for export.

Venezuela has more and more limitations to place its crude production. According to previous technical reports, PDVSA is offering 5.8 million barrels of crude oil and diluted spot crude because of US sanctions. Traditional customers of Venezuelan crude grades such as Merey 16, Boscan, Bachaquero and diluted crude oil, did not submit bids for nine shipments scheduled between March and June. Chevron, Rosneft and Lukoil have freed PDVSA from contractual commitments for the Venezuelan company to seek customers in the international market for its crude.

But Indian and Chinese refiners, the main customers of PDVSA in Asia, are facing difficulties in ramping up imports of Venezuelan crude from current levels amid US sanctions as oil traders are backing down, payment restrictions pile up and shipping remains uncertain.

Asian refiners have accounted for around 40% of Venezuelan crude purchases before the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on PDVSA on January 28. After being shut out of the US market, PDVSA was expected to divert more volumes to its Asia customers. So far, there has not been a significant change in the volume of Venezuelan barrels heading east, according to vessel tracking data and shipping fixtures, partly because non-US entities still have until April 28 to wind down their petroleum transactions with Venezuela under the scope of the sanctions.

There were eight VLCCs with February-loading cargoes headed east from Venezuela, of which six VLCCs showed the west coast of India as their final destination. This is slightly more than usual but doesn't indicate a big surge in trade flows.


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Story by Newsdesk-Venezuela from Platts / SPGlobal.

- newsdesk@spglobal.com

02 26


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