CARACAS, March 24 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA’s exports to Asia and the Americas fell last year though shipments to Europe increased, according to a preliminary government report issued this month.
The OPEC country’s Oil Ministry did not explain the overall drop in exports in its report to Parliament, though ebbing oil output at mature fields and refinery problems towards the end of the year are likely to have crimped shipments.
Asia remained PDVSA’s top market last year as Venezuela has sought to diversify away from North America, though shipments to Asia clocked a roughly 8.3 percent drop to 953,000 bpd.
Exports to North America fell about 4.8 percent to 837,000 bpd and those to Latin America dropped 8.5 percent to 418,000. European deliveries increased 11.9 percent to 132,000.
Exports to regional allies under favorable terms dropped last year, part of a trend of Venezuela cutting back on such deliveries amid a severe economic crisis at home.
Around 77,000 barrels per day were sent to key ally Cuba, the report said. It did not provide comparative data, but the figure suggests shipments to the Caribbean island have dropped significantly.
Likewise, exports under regional cooperation agreements such as Petrocaribe fell to 101,000 bpd last year from around 122,000 in 2013.
PDVSA and the Oil Ministry did not respond to requests for more details. PDVSA’s audited 2014 report is due to be published around the middle of this year.
Operations at Venezuela’s refineries have been dragged down in recent years by blackouts, malfunctions, and accidents. Problems late last year helped spur PDVSA to import oil, including Algerian crude, to be used as a diluent.
The report said an average of 638,000 bpd were processed last year at the Paraguana refining complex, the country’s biggest, below its capacity of 955,000 bpd.
The 146,000 bpd El Palito refinery processed an average of 119,000, while the 187,000 bpd Puerto La Cruz facility processed an average of 163,000.
Now under new leadership, PDVSA says it is determined to modernize the refinery network. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston, additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)