Venezuelan crude “stuck” in the Caribbean

More than 4m barrels of Venezuelan crude and fuels are sitting in about a dozen tankers at anchor in the Caribbean sea, reports Reuters. They cannot reach their destination because Venezuelan state-run PDVSA cannot pay for hull cleaning, inspections, and other port services.

The hulls have been soiled by crude oil as a result of leaks at the ports of Bajo Grande and Jose. Vessels started to become soiled by crude in PDVSA’s ports last year amid intermittent oil leaks at Bajo Grande terminal in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, said Reuters, citing unnamed sources close to that operation.

PDVSA is the source of most of Venezuela’s export revenue, but oil production and exports are currently at their lowest for 20 years.

The dozen or so tankers that have not been cleaned are mostly from PDVSA’s fleet of owned and leased vessels. Another 11 tankers were being held up earlier this month for “financial retention,” a classification used by PDVSA in its internal reports to identify loaded vessels that have been embargoed or temporarily retained by port authorities, inspection firms or maritime agencies due to unpaid bills.

The list includes the Aframax Hero, loaded in September with 520,000 barrels of fuel oil bound for China, currently moored in Curacao and more than 100 days late.