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Venezuelas PDVSA mulling force majeure on oil exports - sources


The arrests of Carlos Algarra and Rene Vasquez, by intelligence agents at Chevron's Puerto La Cruz offices, spooked other foreign companies operating in the OPEC nation in partnership with state oil company PDVSA.

If customers continue rejecting the ship-to-ship proposal, PDVSA could be forced to declare force majeure over shipments going out from Jose and the CRP, the sources said.

PDVSA's oil production has been plummeting and it is currently around 1.4 million bpd, according to estimates. Nayara Energy, Valero Energy and units of CNPC, which each had vessels awaiting loadings on Wednesday, did not reply to a request for comment.

There were more than 70 tankers off the coast of Venezuela on Tuesday, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data.

Argus, a provider of energy pricing information and news, first reported the possibility of PDVSA invoking the declaration.

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While attacking the U.S. for infiltrating the oil industry, Maduro told PDVSA workers to start a production "revolution" at the state oil company.

Venezuelan ports - facing lack of spare parts, limited operation hours and a dwindling workforce - have struggled to handle the increasing number of tankers, leaving customers with growing delays and unfulfilled supply contracts.

The embattled president, who has just won a presidential election deemed illegitimate by other nations, also called for an "economic counteroffensive" against what he described as a U.S. economic war on Venezuela.

The company's proposed STS transfer solution, to be performed in waters about 10km from Venezuela's Cardon refinery, faces resistance among oil buyers, according to shippers and traders.

Venezuela's crude exports fell 6 percent in May to 1.168 million bpd following U.S. ConocoPhillips' (COP.N) legal actions to seize PDVSA's assets in four Caribbean islands, according to Reuters data.

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It was unclear who would pay for the ship-to-ship transfers.

"A STS operation adds at least $1 per barrel to the purchase cost".

Insurance coverage for tankers and cargoes would also have to be changed to include the STS operation if customers accepted the option, Campbell added.

It has separately begun notifying all its customers that it will no longer receive new tankers for loading at Jose or Paraguana, its main export terminals, until ships already in line are served.

Crude spills affecting the waters surrounding several of PDVSA's ports at Venezuela's western coast is another risk some customers see as an obstacle for the transfers.

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