August 10, 2018 / 3:03 PM / 2 months ago

Venezuela's crude sales to U.S. in July again fell below 500,000 bpd

Aug 10 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s crude exports to the United States declined to 494,400 barrels per day (bpd) in July after rising the prior three months, showing the impact of asset seizures against state-run oil firm PDVSA, according to Thomson Reuters data.

July was the first month crude exports fell below 500,000 bpd since the months of January through March.

U.S. oil producer ConocoPhillips in May began seizing PDVSA’s overseas assets in an attempt to collect on a $2 billion arbitration award. Its legal actions have left PDVSA with no access to most of its Caribbean terminals, restricting the company’s already dwindling exports.

Most of PDVSA’s customers in the United States, where flows of Venezuelan oil have also been affected in the last year by financial sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, are now receiving fewer barrels.

In July, 30 cargoes of Venezuelan crude arrived at U.S. ports, compared with 33 in June. The volumes in July were 12 percent lower than the prior month and 22.5 percent below the same month a year earlier, according to the data.

Only two cargoes of Venezuelan crude were shipped last month from the Caribbean island of Aruba, where PDVSA’s unit Citgo Petroleum operates an oil terminal. A local court in May temporarily froze inventories and cargoes there at Conoco’s request, but weeks later it allowed the U.S. refining subsidiary to resume normal operations at the facility.

No Venezuelan crude has been shipped to the United States since mid-June from Curacao, Bonaire or St. Eustatius, neighboring Caribbean islands that PDVSA has used to refine, store and ship oil, according to the data.

The largest importer of Venezuelan crude in the United States last month was Valero Energy, which has managed to ramp up imports of Venezuelan oil in recent months amid the country’s export crisis.

The second largest importer was Citgo.

Even amid declining crude exports, shipments to the United States of Diluted Crude Oil (DCO) made with Venezuelan extra heavy oil and imported naphtha continued rising in July, to 252,820 bpd, suggesting limited output of upgraded crude at Venezuela’s main crude producing region, the Orinoco Belt.

PDVSA has limited the damage from the asset seizures by transferring oil between tankers at sea and loading vessels in neighboring Cuba. But the company is fulfilling less than 60 percent of its supply obligations with customers. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Gary McWilliams and Phil Berlowitz )

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