Venezuelan crude sales to the United States declined 14 pct in Jan
HOUSTON Feb 8 (Reuters) - Venezuela's crude exports to the United States fell 14.3 percent in January versus the previous month to 643,935 barrels per day (bpd) due to lower sales of diluted crude oil (DCO) to regular customers, according to Reuters trade flows data.
State-run oil company PDVSA and its joint ventures sent a total of 43 crude cargoes to the United States.
PDVSA's refining unit Citgo Petroleum was the main receiver. Other importers included Phillips66, Valero Energy and Chevron Corp, which was one of few customers receiving a larger volume of Venezuelan oil last month.
Sales of DCO made with Venezuelan extra heavy crude and naphtha decreased 39 percent, but shipments of Merey blend made with different types of crude rose 13.4 percent to 138,680 bpd, according to the data.
PDVSA has been buying at least one monthly cargo of African oil crude since last year for refining and blending. This year it has received three cargoes of Nigerian and U.S. crudes at its terminal in Curacao from firms Total, Lukoil and Citgo.
Lured by cheap prices and discounts, U.S. refining and trading firms are expected to import a record volume of African crudes in February, but Latin America's limited production capacity has not allowed it to see any benefit from the purchase increase.
Venezuela exported 772,880 bpd of crude to the United States last year, an increase versus record lows of 2013 and 2014. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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