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Venezuela´s oil ports closed, output stalled



By Argus

Petroleumworld 03 13 2019

Venezuela´s main oil terminals remain closed and most upstream production is shut in five days after a catastrophic blackout swept across the Opec country, according to officials at state-owned PdV and its labor federation.

PdV safety inspectors are currently assessing the extent of potential structural damages that terminal infrastructure may have suffered because of the ongoing blackout, the officials said.

The affected terminals include the Jose and Guaraguao terminals in Anzoátegui state, the Punta Cardón and Amuay terminals at the 940,000 b/d refining complex in Falcón state, and Puerto Miranda on Lake Maracaibo.

PdV has not officially declared force majeure on its delayed crude loadings to avoid contradicting oil minister Manuel Quevedo's assurances that wellhead-to-terminal operations are operating normally.

Electricity was partially restored at the Jose terminal yesterday, but crude loadings have not resumed yet, union officials and a PdV official both said.

Jose handles nearly three-quarters of PdV's total exports and most of its products imports , including gasoline and naphtha used as diluent in its Orinoco heavy oil belt operations.

Cyprus-flagged VLCC Energy R and Malta-flagged Suezmax Fontana are among dozens of tankers backed up at Jose, some from before Venezuela went dark on 7 March. The backlog was a result of US oil sanctions imposed on 28 January that effectively cut off the US market for Venezuelan crude.

"Loading and unloading delays may continue for several days after electricity is completely restored to our production and terminal facilities because damage inspections and possible repairs must be completed before export operations can resume safely," a PdV official in Caracas said.

Pipeline crude deliveries to Jose from PdV's Orinoco oil belt operations have mostly dried up since 7 March, partly because of the power outage but also because operational storage is full. Production from the Orinoco oil belt, the largest source of Venezuelan output, has collapsed to only around 100,000 b/d from 700,000-800,000 b/d before the blackout, a senior union official said. Venezuela had been producing around 950,000 b/d before the power outage.

Structural damage to the 765kV transmission line that links the 10GW Guri hydroelectric complex to the rest of Venezuela has not been repaired yet, a senior official with state-owned utility Corpoelec told Argus this morning.

The blackout originated with a brushfire near the Malena substation on the transmission line, resulting in a catastrophic loss of power and associated water supply.

Corpoelec must also repair dozens of aged transformers that were destroyed by the blackout and subsequent failed efforts to restore electricity supplies.

Electricity minister Luis Motta has ordered Corpoelec to draw up a programmed rationing plan.

An initial draft of the rationing plan seen by Argus late yesterday indicates that the country will be divided into six multi-state regions where power will be rationed daily in 12-hour blocks. Caracas would be exempted.



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