Venezuela is engulfed in a severe political crisis and economic meltdown, with oil production declining and the sector in chaos amid corruption, a brain-drain, and U.S. financial sanctions making shipments and transactions ever more difficult.
The oil company in recent days has raised the prospect that deliveries could be interrupted to some of the world's largest refiners if it fails to end a tanker bottleneck contributing to a sharp decline in oil exports, the lifeblood of the Opec-member nation.
Venezuela has released two local executives of Chevron Corp jailed two months ago during a corruption probe in the oil sector, a local consultancy and a source close to the U.S. oil major said on Wednesday.
Svilen Petrov is 31 years old marketing manager and co-Chief Editor of Maritime Herald.
The OPEC member's export terminals have grown overcrowded since ConocoPhillips last month won court orders freezing PDVSA's key Caribbean operations, where the company used to ship large cargoes to Asian destinations.
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 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.
In April, the company shipped 1.49 million bpd of crude and fuels to its customers - 665,000 bpd below the 2.15 million bpd contracted, the documents show.
Argus, a provider of energy pricing information and news, first reported the possibility of PDVSA invoking the declaration.
The delivery method entails specialized equipment and training and higher costs for ship owners and customers. The nation's crude exports in the first five months of 2018 were 27% lower than in the same period of 2017.
In January-April, crude output fell to 1.62 million bpd, the lowest annual average in over three decades. The captain of the receiving tanker also has to be trained to perform the operation, a shipper said.
The price of Venezuela's Merey crude, the main grade exported from Jose port, rose to $60.24 per barrel in April.
Crude spills affecting the waters surrounding several PDVSA's ports at Venezuela's western coast is another risk some customers see as an obstacle for the transfers.
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