TEHRAN (Iran News) – Venezuela has begun shipping in heavy crude oil from Iran to use as feedstock in domestic refineries, Reuters reported on Monday citing documents from Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA.
The import of Iranian heavy crude is going to expand the two country’s energy cooperation as the two U.S.-sanctioned nations have already agreed on swapping Iran’s gas condensate for Venezuela’s crude oil.
The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) last year reached a deal with PDVSA to swap Venezuelan crude for Iranian condensate, which PDVSA would also use as a diluent and mix it with the tar-like crudes from the Orinoco oil belt for transportation and export.
Iran’s heavy crude, which is similar in quality to Venezuela’s Mesa 30 crude, is set to augment domestic oil fed to PDVSA’s refineries, according to the documents.
As part of the cooperation pacts, Venezuela in recent years has received Iranian equipment to revamp its refineries. The 146,000-barrel-per-day El Palito refinery is restarting a crude distillation unit this week after extensive repairs and upgrading that relied on equipment imported from Iran.
Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Oji traveled to Venezuela last week to meet President Nicolas Maduro and discuss trade agreements with his counterpart, Tareck El Aissami.
At least 200,000 barrels of Iranian heavy crude were delivered in mid-April to the 310,000-bpd Cardon refinery, Venezuela’s second largest. Another 400,000-barrels of Iranian oil, which arrived on the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Dino I, is discharging this week at the country’s Jose port, the PDVSA documents showed.
The Dino I is scheduled to set sail later this month carrying Venezuela fuel oil for NIOC unit Naftiran Intertrade Co, according to one of the documents.
The Islamic Republi also continues supplying PDVSA with condensate. Venezuela-owned tanker Maximo Gorki is set to discharge some two million barrels of condensate at Jose, and Iran-flagged Derya is in Venezuelan waters waiting to deliver its cargo, service TankerTrackers.com said.
As its oil output becomes heavier, Venezuela struggles to source medium and light grades for its refineries, contributing to limited production and intermittent scarcity of motor fuels.
The South American country also increasingly needs lighter crudes or refined products to turn its extra heavy oil output into exportable grades.