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Energy shortages in Cuba exacerbated by fall in Venezuela oil exports
Published on July 17, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Oil refinery near Havana, Cuba. Photo: Wikimedia

HAVANA, Cuba -- Venezuela's crude and fuel oil deliveries to Cuba fell almost 13 percent in the first half of this year, according to documents from state-run oil company PDVSA viewed by Reuters, threatening to exacerbate fuel and power shortages in the island.

Since 2016, Cuba's government has reduced fuel allocations 28 percent to most state-run companies, and has cut electricity consumption. Public lighting was cut 50 percent, while residential electric use was spared, Voice of America reported.

Cuba's economy, which has been gearing up to welcome more tourists, depends heavily on Venezuelan oil shipments, while Venezuela's crude production has been sliding in 2017 for the sixth year in a row. The poor shape of Venezuelan refineries cut into fuel exports this year, and Venezuela has also had to boost fuel imports to meet domestic demand.

"Cuba needs at least 70,000 bpd from Venezuela to cover its energy deficit and avoid deeper rationing. A larger or total loss of the Venezuelan supply would have a high political and financial cost for Cuba," said Jorge Pinon, a Cuban energy expert at the University of Texas in Austin.

Cuba, which produces extremely heavy crude used by industry and power plants, is seeking oil cargoes from other producers including Russia, something it had not done for more than a decade.

In one of several recent shipments, the Ocean Quest tanker loaded with fuel oil at Russia's Tuapse terminal, arrived in Havana on July 9 and is waiting to discharge, according to Reuters vessel tracking data.

Cuba's three aged refineries have been operating at reduced rates since last year due to a shortage of light crude, which also affects Venezuela's 1.3-million-bpd refining network.
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