March 15, 2019 / 6:54 PM / 2 months ago

Shipbroker McQuilling ends tanker contracts with Venezuela's PDVSA

HOUSTON, March 15 (Reuters) - A second maritime firm has told Venezuela's state-run oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela it would end all charter contracts with the company as a result of U.S. sanctions, according to an internal document and a person familiar with the matter.

U.S.-based McQuilling Partners Inc, which provided PDVSA with four contract tankers, joined German tanker operator Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) in withdrawing from providing oil-shipping services to Venezuela.

The United States levied sanctions in January on PDVSA and Venezuela aimed at restricting oil revenues to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whom the United States and 50 other countries no longer recognize as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

The withdrawal of both maritime services provider undermine the OPEC member's ability to supply its crude to global markets. Oil provides more than 90 percent of Venezuela's export revenue.

Oil exports from Venezuela dropped by about 40 percent in the first month after sanctions were imposed on Jan. 28. More than 6 million barrels of oil were stranded on tankers after PDVSA demanded prepayment for the cargoes.

[For a chart of top importers of Venezuelan crude by country, see: tmsnrt.rs/2RYGk2E ]

"McQuilling will not engage in any ship brokerage activity and services involving charters with PDVSA" until the sanctions against PDVSA are lifted by the U.S. Treasury, according to a document seen by Reuters.

"We're steering clear," a McQuilling shipbroker said on Friday. "We obviously are not moving any barrels over there."

PDVSA and the Venezuelan oil ministry did not immediately respond to requests for information on the availability of tankers.

McQuilling had contracts to supply four oil tankers - the Pericles, Morning Glory, Ice Energy and Felicity - to a PDVSA subsidiary, the document showed.

BSM on Thursday said in a statement that political developments made managing assets for the South American nation "an almost impossible task," and it would return Venezuelan vessels to PDVSA by late this month or early April.

The firm operated a fleet of 15 PDVSA vessels and had worked in the Latin American country for almost 25 years.

Reporting by Collin Eaton and Marianna Parraga; additional reporting by Catarina Demony in Lisbon; editing by Grant McCool

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