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HOUSTON, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Shipments of Venezuelan diluted crude oil (DCO) to the United States more than doubled in October to 5.82 million barrels, or some 187,750 barrels per day, according to Reuters trade flows data.
PDVSA reduced DCO sales from August to September in the middle of falling crude sale prices and costly imports of the naphtha it has been using as a diluent to formulate and mix with its increasing extra heavy crude output. The oil sold in October had been in storage.
A total of 11 cargoes of DCO were received by the United States last month, mostly shipped from PDVSA's storage facilities in the Caribbean, versus four in September that accounted for 71,000 bpd. In August, the company exported 10 cargoes or 166,000 bpd.
PDVSA's refining unit in the United States, Citgo Petroleum, benefited from the exports rebound, receiving eight 500,000 to 600,000 barrel cargoes in October versus only four cargoes the previous month, according to the data.
U.S. oil firm Chevron bought two 350,000 to 550,000 barrel cargoes for its Pascagoula and El Segundo refineries, after not receiving any in September.
Venezuela also sent a 600,000 barrel cargo to Chalmette refinery, operated by Exxon in Louisiana and owned by the U.S. oil firm and PDVSA.
But even with increasing DCO sales, Venezuela's total crude exports to the United States, made up of 43 cargoes of different crudes, fell to some 660,000 bpd last month, the lowest monthly figure since January, versus 760,000 bpd in September, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Reuters.
Venezuela last week started purchases of Algerian light oil to replace the costly imported naphtha it has been using as diluent for its output at the Orinoco, its main producing region.
The company confirmed imports, but it has not said if DCO sales to Citgo and other customers will be replaced with crude blends. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Chris Reese)