PDVSA Takes Another Stab At Replenishing Gasoline

(Argus, 12.Aug.2020) — Venezuelan state-owned PdV plans to restart gasoline production in 10-15 days at its 940,000 b/d CRP refining complex after restarting two crude distillation units yesterday, according to PdV officials and an internal operations report seen by Argus.

The CRP is currently processing up to 135,000 b/d of light and medium crude, including 85,000 b/d at distillation unit 4 (CD-4) at the 635,000 b/d Amuay refinery, and 50,000 b/d at distillation unit 1 (CD-1) at the 305,000 b/d Cardon refinery. PdV is hoping that a year-long fuel shortage will ease by the second half of September.

“We are not producing any gasoline yet,” a PdV manager at the CRP tells Argus. “CD-4 at Amuay and CD-1 at Cardon are now processing up to 135,000 b/d but that level of production has to be sustained and other units needed for gasoline production, including the fluid catalytic cracker, must be restarted.”

Repairs to Cardon’s 86,000 b/d FCC are almost completed but the unit’s restart could be delayed while PdV builds up stocks of cabotaged and imported naphtha and vacuum gasoil, a second Cardon manager said.

Work on Cardon’s alkylation, naphtha reformer, hydrodesulfurization and hydrotreatment units should be completed by September, the manager said.

The Cyprus-registered products tanker E Pioneer currently is discharging 100,000 bl of naphtha at the Amuay terminal that PdV plans to blend with distillate to produce gasoline, according to Amuay’s daily terminal operations report dated 11 August.

The report also shows Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Kudos has been nominated to deliver 540,000 bl of VGO supplied by Russia’s Rosneft within 28-30 days.

Venezuela-flagged products tanker Luisa Caceres de Arismendi is discharging 74,700 bl of fresh water at Amuay’s terminal earmarked for CRP industrial services.

PdV has to cabotage water to the CRP in Paraguana and the 140,000 b/d El Palito refinery in Carabobo state from other parts of Venezuela because the collapse of state-owned aqueduct systems in both regions has impaired municipal supply.

Repairs of El Palito’s 61,500 b/d FCC and distillation unit are ongoing. PdV has made several failed attempts this year to restart El Palito, which has been out of service since 2017.

The manager confirmed that El Palito is the source of a significant week-old oil spill, fouling coastal mangroves.

PdV is under pressure to replenish gasoline ahead of National Assembly elections on 6 December. The US-backed opposition led by Juan Guaido is boycotting the elections for lacking fair conditions.

Service stations in Caracas have once again drawn long lines of cars seeking to tank up on scarce supply.