(Adds details on year-to-date imports, use of oil swaps)
By Marianna Parraga
Dec 5 (Reuters) - Venezuela this month plans to import over 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of refined products to ease domestic fuel shortages caused by hobbled refineries and need to prioritize exports, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.
The country with the world’s largest crude reserves this year has not been able to make enough fuel to meet local demand and fulfill supply contracts with customers, including those under oil-for-loan agreements with Russia and China, the documents showed.
From January through November, state-run oil firm PDVSA bought 19,000 bpd of crude mostly to feed its Isla refinery in Curacao and 234,000 bpd of refined products, including naphtha for diluting its extra heavy oil output, gasoline, diesel for power generation and components to make motor fuel.
The 253,000 bpd of total imports so far this year represent an all-time record and a 40-percent increase compared with the 180,250 bpd bought last year, according to internal PDVSA data analyzed by Reuters.
The purchases, which have expanded despite PDVSA’s cash constraints, have been negotiated almost entirely through swaps with fuel providers and traders, which receive Venezuelan crude and residual fuel, according to the data, a PDVSA employee and traders involved in the deals.
“Since February, we have not paid a single imported cargo with cash. We are exchanging the imported fuel for (Venezuelan) asphalt, virgin naphtha, natural gasoline, fuel oil, residual crude, whatever we have,” said the PDVSA employee who could not be identified because the information is private. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)