| HOUSTON, April 12
HOUSTON, April 12 About a dozen tankers are
sailing to Venezuela or waiting offshore to discharge cargoes
after state-run oil company PDVSA ramped up tenders to buy
gasoline and other fuels to offset its weak refining output,
according to traders and Thomson Reuters data.
Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) recently awarded BP
, Castleton Commodities, Rosneft and CT Energia
contracts to buy more than 15 cargoes of gasoline blend stock,
diesel, vacuum gasoil, catalytic naphtha and cutter stock for
delivery from April through May.
The total volume expected for the coming weeks surpasses 4
million barrels, according to traders and tender documents
circulated by PDVSA.
Venezuela can produce up to 1.3 million barrels per day
(bpd) of fuels at its refineries. It typically exports a large
volume of fuel oil and others products, but its operations have
been working well below capacity this year amid frequent
Most of the coming cargoes were sold under prepayment
agreements, meaning the tankers are not authorized to discharge
at PDVSA's terminals until payment is received, the traders
Under a similar arrangement, BP sold 13 cargoes of U.S.
crude to PDVSA last year. But the tankers waited for weeks or
months before receiving authorization to discharge amid payment
The delays forced a repricing of the cargoes. The Venezuelan
firm ended up paying some $130 million more than it planned for
the crude imports.
Crisis-hit Venezuela spent months negotiating with
investment banks, offering bonds as a guarantee, as it sought to
boost liquidity ahead of steep debt payments beginning this
On Wednesday, PDVSA paid roughly $2.2 billion of the nearly
$3 billion the country owes to bondholders this month.
In the meantime, unpaid bills from PDVSA's suppliers keep
piling up, while the firm tries to restart refining units that
produce fuels to avoid a new shortage of gasoline.
Long lines at service stations in March followed a shortage
of fuels that the government blamed on distribution problems.
PDVSA has recently signed swap deals that minimize payments
in cash when buying fuels, but many providers insist on
prepayment when dealing with Venezuela. It has also increased
imports from its U.S. unit, Citgo Petroleum.
In the most recent refinery incident in Venezuela, a fire
occurred in a warehouse at El Palito refinery on Tuesday. PDVSA
said there were no injuries or damages to the facility, but a
worker said security equipment and spare parts were damaged.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Tom Brown)