(Adds details on the spill, context)
Jan 17 (Reuters) - Shipping operations at one of three docks of Venezuela’s main crude exporting port were halted after an oil spill occurred while loading a vessel bound for India, union and shipping sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
The spill, which happened over the weekend at Jose port’s Eastern dock and whose size has not yet been disclosed, also affected other tankers close to the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Nave Quasar, chartered by India’s Reliance Industries , the sources said.
“The tanker had loaded 10,000 barrels less than agreed so when trying to reconnect the crude line to fill the missing volume, the pressure was too high, breaking the end of the hose and spilling crude directly to the sea,” one of the sources said.
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, which operates the terminal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jose is Venezuela’s largest crude port. Most crude shipments are made from there due to its capacity to load Suezmaxes and VLCCs. The port also receives imports of diluents for PDVSA’s extra heavy oil output, such as light crude and naphtha.
India’s Reliance is among PDVSA’s main customers. It receives crude from the Orinoco Belt, and in some cases pays for that oil by shipping refined products to Venezuela.
Cleaning work by PDVSA’s workers started over the weekend at Jose’s Eastern dock and the affected vessel, the sources said. Operations are expected to resume after the cleaning is completed. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga and Catherine Ngai in Houston and Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Venezuela; Editing by David Gregorio and Meredith Mazzilli)