Vitol hires ship to load Venezuela crude for China after US lifts sanctions: report

Vitol, a major global independent oil trader, has provisionally chartered a supertanker to load oil from Venezuela for China, reports Reuters, citing two shipbrokers and data from shiptracking firms Kpler and Vortexa.

The Very Large Crude Carrier Gustavia S (IMO 9859399) was chartered for $11m and is scheduled to load its cargo between November 27th and December 2nd, according to the sources.

Vitol is one of several major European trading houses reported to be seeking to resume trade in Venezuelan oil now that the US Biden administration has issued a general licence lifting sanctions on the country’s oil production and exports, through to April 2024 at least.

The US has said that it wants to see progress towards a transparent presidential election in Venezuela as well as a release of political prisoners by November 30th, or it could reimpose the sanctions.

Meanwhile, US oil major Chevron Corp has begun supplying fuel to Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA, following the decision by the Biden administration to approve an expanded level of deals between the two countries, reports Reuters, citing three unnamed sources who were familiar with the matter.

In 2022 Chevron and PDVSA had signed a deal expand some operations. This included a swap of Venezuelan crude for Chevron-provided diluents, and also for repayment of debts owned by Venezuelan joint ventures.

Under terms that imply an expansion of the previous swap deal, Chevron has begun supplying PDVSA with fuel, including naphtha and gasoline blend stock, one of the sources said.

The first vessel under the arrangement arrived in Venezuela’s Jose port last week, carrying 450,000 barrels of heavy naphtha for PDVSA, according to tanker tracking data and a document seen by Reuters.

A second tanker was being chartered to transport about 240,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock for November delivery, two of the sources claimed.

It was not immediately clear if the fuel shipments would be compensated with Venezuelan crude or under a different payment mechanism. The October licence permitted the making and receiving of payments from Venezuela, and to procure goods and services for oil and gas projects.

2020-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 156,452 gt Gustavia S is owned by Zeta Owners Inc care of manager TMS Tankers of Athens, Greece. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Zeta Owners Inc. Gard is claims leader for hull on behalf of TMS Tankers Inc. As of November 20th it was underway from Yeosu, South Korea, to Port Of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, ETA November 23rd.