HOUSTON Nov 23 A vessel carrying Venezuelan
petroleum coke whose load caught fire set sail late on Tuesday
for Colombia, allowing exports from the terminal to resume after
a three-week halt while authorities decided what to do with the
The Petrosanfelix terminal where the vessel was stuck
accounts for more than a third of the around 150,000 tonnes of
petroleum coke that Venezuela can export per month. Utilities
buy the product and mix it with coal to burn at power plants.
The Top Trader, chartered by U.S. Koch Industries and
carrying 22,000 metric tonnes of petroleum coke, sailed on
Tuesday, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data.
The cargo was sailing for Cartagena, Colombia, a change from
the original destination in Europe.
The vessel's crew noticed burning petroleum coke when
loading the cargo last month at the terminal, which is operated
by state-run oil giant PDVSA.
It was unclear if the burning coke caused any damage to the
PDVSA refused to allow the ship to discharge the cargo, so
its insurance company and the ship broker authorized the vessel
to sail to another port to unload.
Before clearing the move, Colombian Maritime Authority
requested the vessel's manager provide a contingency plan for
navigation and discharge, sources said.
Petroleum coke is a product derived from upgrading
Venezuelan Orinoco belt's extra heavy oil into a crude more
valuable for refiners.
The coke is typically transported from production facilities
to the terminals at a high temperature, but many customers do
not accept loading the cargoes if they detect fire.
Frequent outages and logistics problems have created an
accumulation of million of tonnes of petroleum coke at PDVSA's
eastern terminals in recent years. Exports have also been
affected in the past.
After the Top Trader left the Petrosanfelix terminal,
loading operations resumed at that facility, while other PDVSA
ports were also loading petroleum coke this week, according to
an independent report.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Simon Webb and Alan