Citgo Reports Higher Exports, Crude Throughputs

(Argus, 1.Apr.2019) — Citgo increased fuel exports and domestic crude processing last year, the company said in rare public guidance on the Venezuelan-controlled independent refiner’s operations.

The refiner reported crude throughputs of 716,000 b/d for 2018, a 9.1pc increase from the 656,333 b/d of crude processed in 2017, the company said in a brief operational update published late last week. Total throughputs were at 829,000 b/d last year.

Fourth quarter domestic crude throughputs at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Corpus Christi, Texas, refineries increased to 324,000 b/d, or 60.4pc of its crude throughputs in the region for the quarter.

Citgo also reported total fuel exports of 206,000 b/d, higher by 4pc compared to 2017. The company said it made a profit of $243mn for the quarter and $851mn for the year.

“Considering net income alone, we achieved an exceptionally solid year, one of our best in Citgo history,” executive vice president Rick Esser said in the statement.

While a typical announcement for publicly-traded peers, it was an unusual disclosure for the US refining subsidiary of Venezuelan national oil company, PdV. The company last issued a statement on net income in 2007 and has generally ignored media inquiries.

But Citgo has emphasized stability — operational and financial — as US sanctions, humanitarian crises and economic collapse beset its Venezuelan parent. Citgo last week secured a $1.2bn, five-year loan, extending at a higher price the credit used to support regular operations and refinancing debts maturing in the next four months. The company touted the bond market confidence and operational security offered by federal revisions to a license under US sanctions on PdV imposed beginning 28 January.

Citgo operates 750,000 b/d of US refining capacity in the Gulf coast and midcontinent and an associated pipeline and terminal network. As Venezuela’s most valuable overseas asset, the refiner offers a prime target for foreign companies owed billions for assets expropriated by the country’s government. Multiple civil cases in US federal courts have sought to hold the US subsidiary liable for arbitration awards owed by the Venezuelan government. And Citgo has offered favorable ground for a western government-supported proxy battle by Venezuelan national assembly leader Juan Guaido’s to control more of the republic’s institutions. Guaido appointees lead the refiner’s board, one of the only Venezuelan entities under his direct authority. Most western governments support Guaido’s efforts to transition Venezuela from under president Nicolas Maduro to new elections.

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