Eni-chartered cargo of Venezuelan crude departs for Europe

A cargo of heavy crude has left Venezuela, heading for Europe, the first for three months. The 655,000-barrel cargo of Venezuelan heavy crude was on the Greece-flagged Aframax tanker Minerva Alexandra (IMO 9892999), which had been chartered by a unit of Italy-based Eni SpA. The load departed on Friday February 24th from a port operated by state-run PDVSA, according to shipping data.

Eni and Spain-based Repsol received US authorization last year to take Venezuelan oil to Europe as compensation for outstanding debt. With the list of countries against which the US is applying sanctions ever-widening, Venezuela is considered the “least bad” on the list. Sections in the US have expressed concerns that the country’s list of places on which sanctions have been imposed is opening the door for a greater international influence from China and Russia, as well as the opportunity for the sanctioned countries to deal with each other.

The shipments were allocated intermittently last year and so far in 2023 most Venezuelan crude exports have been halted because of a wide-ranging audit by new PDVSA boss Pedro Tellechea. He has changed contract terms to avoid what had been a series of failed payments by some customers.

The Minerva Alexandra arrived in Venezuelan waters earlier this month. It loaded about 315,000 barrels of Boscan crude and 340,000 barrels of diluted crude oil, according to internal PDVSA shipping documents and Refinitiv Eikon data, cited by Reuters.

The vessel is heading for Repsol’s Cartagena refinery, according to the documents and data.

Eni received two cargoes of Venezuelan diluted crude in June-July last year and two more shipments in November, according to PDVSA’s documents.

That oil has helped Italy and Spain ease a lack of specific crude grades in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions.

Meanwhile, US-based Chevron was set to transport more than 100,000 barrels a day to the US during February. The company was issued with a US licence last November.

2021-byuilt, Greece-flagged, 62,762 gt Minerva Alexandra is owned by Otus Shipping SA care of manager Minerva Mrine Inc of Athens, Greece. It is entered with NorthStandard on behalf of Otus Shipping SA. As of February 26th it was en route from Jose terminal, Venezuela, to Cartagena, Spain, ETA March 10th.