India private refiner Reliance Industries cuts Venezuela crude imports
By Ratnajyoti Dutta / Platts
Petroleumworld 03 14 2019
India's largest private refiner Reliance Industries Ltd has cut crude imports from Venezuela in compliance with US sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro's regime, trade sources said Thursday.
Currently, Reliance Industries imports around 225,000 b/d from the sanctions-hit nation, down from usual imports of around 300,000 b/d, the sources said.
Reliance Industries accounts for around 80-90% of India's annual Venezuelan crude imports. It has not increased Venezuelan crude purchases for its refineries located at Jamnagar on the west coast of India, a company official said separately.
Reliance operates two refineries at the Jamnagar complex -- one with a capacity of 33 million mt/year (660,000 b/d) focused on the domestic market and an export-focused 35.2 million mt/year plant.
Its total refining capacity at the Jamnagar complex stood at 68.2 million mt/year (around 1.36 million b/d) in 2017-18, making it the world's biggest refining complex by capacity.
"Since the US government imposed sanctions on the Government of Venezuela in late January 2019, Reliance Industries Limited has been in close contact with representatives from the US State Department to ensure full compliance," a spokesman said.
"Our US subsidiary has completely stopped all business with Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PdVSA, and its global parent has not increased crude purchases," the spokesman said, adding that since sanctions were imposed it has also halted all supply of diluent to PdVSA and will not resume such sales until sanctions are lifted.
State-run PdVSA uses naphtha to dilute its heavy crude grades to sell overseas.
"We will continue a constructive dialogue with the US government to ensure Reliance remains in compliance," the spokesman said.
Earlier this week, India's oil secretary M M Kutty said the country was pursuing a policy to cut Venezuelan crude imports. However, India's state-owned refiners import very small amounts of Venezuelan crude.
"We don't have any regular appetite for Venezuelan grades due to technical reasons," said a senior official of Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), the country's flagship state-run refiner.
India's two private refiners, Reliance and Nayara Energy, have typically been significant buyers of Venezuelan crude. Both of them operate high-complexity plants in western India designed to process discounted heavy crudes, and they receive a steady flow of Venezuelan crude through their contracts with PdVSA.
The Narendra Modi-led government has apprised private refiners of the consequences of continuing trade with sanctions-hit Venezuela, Kutty said Monday at the CERAWeek conference in Houston.
Last month, visiting Venezuelan oil minister Manuel Quevedo tried to convince Indian refiners to buy more of its crude on easy terms. Venezuela aimed to double crude imports to India, Quevedo said at a conference.
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Story by Ratnajyoti Dutta from Platts / SPGlobal.
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