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Trafigura ships Venezuelan asphalt to US



By Argus

Petroleumworld 03 18 2019

An asphalt tanker that loaded in Venezuela arrived on US shores last week in spite of US sanctions on Venezuela´s state-owned PDVSA (PdV) that will be in full force near the end of April.

The 14,634t The Amigo , chartered by trading firm Trafigura, departed Venezuela´s Amuay Bay at the end of February before arriving in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, on 4 March and Savannah, Georgia, on 6 March.

The vessel appeared to partially discharge at both ports, according to vessel tracking indications.

US imports of Venezuelan asphalt plunged in recent years. Tanker shipments were already affected by US financial sanctions that were imposed on PdV in August 2017, as well as equipment breakdowns and feedstock shortages at PdV's main 940,000 b/d CRP refining complex.

US imports of asphalt from Venezuela dwindled to just 809,000 bl last year, down from nearly 1.3mn bl in 2017, according to US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

Oil sanctions imposed by the US on 28 January require US companies buying crude and refined products from Venezuela to deposit payments in an escrow account at a US bank, instead of paying PdV directly.

Asphalt is not explicitly listed in the US sanctions directive, but the escrow requirement is in effect for any cash proceeds from swap arrangements involving imports from PdV. US companies will not be allowed to import any crude or products from Venezuela after 28 April.

Swiss-based Trafigura said last month it would halt any new transactions with PdV in light of the sanctions and was completing past trades under a longstanding swap agreement.

Trafigura was not immediately available to comment.



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