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India's Reliance cuts Venezuelan crude purchases



By Argus

Petroleumworld 03 25 2019

Indian private-sector refiner Reliance Industries (RIL) has reduced its purchases of Venezuelan crude to well below its contracted levels and said it is in compliance with US sanctions.

The company denied it ever has sidestepped US sanctions in supplying products to Venezuela. "Reliance has been transparent with US authorities and also has provided detailed feedback to the US state department as they were formulating and adjusting US policy regarding product shipments to Venezuela," it said.

Washington is applying severe pressure on both India and RIL to stop purchasing crude from Venezuela.

RIL said it has stopped shipments of diluent naphtha to Venezuela. Certain fuel shipments to the Latin American nation were treated as offsets for crude receipts, and took place when there were no specific restrictions to such transactions, it said.

RIL said on 13 March that it would cap its Venezuelan crude purchases to comply with US sanctions but did not mention a reduction at the time.

Fellow Indian refiner Nayara Energy, which also buys Venezuelan crude for its 400,000 b/d refinery at Vadinar, has not commented on its purchases. Venezuela supplies crude to Russia's Rosneft, which owns Nayara, and China in lieu of debt. RIL pays for its supplies cash.

Sanctions-hit Venezuela shipped 299,000 b/d to India in February, up from 241,500 b/d in January but down from 312,000 b/d a year earlier. Venezuelan crude cost an average of $43/bl in the latest month.

The 704,000 b/d export-oriented operations at RIL's Jamnagar refinery on India's west coast processed around 130,000 b/d of Venezuelan crude last month, compared to 117,000 b/d in January. The remaining 169,000 b/d of Venezuelan supplies to India were split between Nayara's Vadinar refinery and RIL's 660,000 b/d domestic-oriented units at Jamnagar.

Venezuelan oil minister and state-owned oil firm PdV's chief executive Manuel Quevedo said in Delhi last month that the country plans to double crude exports to India from an average 300,000 b/d. But the country's total crude sailings fell by 19pc on the month to just over 1mn b/d in February. The sharp decline in sailings comes after the US government on 28 January imposed commercial sanctions on PdV, giving US buyers until 28 April to stop taking Venezuelan crude. The measures immediately halted exports to Venezuela of US diluents, which are critical to sustaining the country's exports of diluted crude oil.

Prospects for Venezuela's March exports are gloomy, after the Opec country's main oil terminals and the majority of its upstream production were shut in because of a nationwide blackout that started on 7 March. Loadings only resumed on 13 March.



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