PDVSA Preparing $950 Million Payment On 2020 Bond: Sources

(Reuters, 15.Oct.2018) — Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA is preparing to pay holders of its 2020 bond some $950 million this month, after failing to make interest payments on most other bonds this year, sources at the company and in the local financial sector said.

PDVSA has fallen behind on more than $7 billion in principal and interest payments since the end of 2017, according to market sources and Refinitiv data, as an economic crisis in Venezuela has worsened.

But cash-strapped PDVSA has stayed current on the 2020 issue, which is backed by 50.1 percent of shares in U.S. refining network Citgo.

“Quevedo gave his approval to arrange this payment,” said one person at PDVSA familiar with the plans, referring to Manuel Quevedo, Venezuela’s oil minister who is also president of PDVSA. “It will be paid in full.”

Another source at PDVSA and three sources in Venezuela’s financial industry confirmed that the company plans to pay. The sources spoke last week and requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.

PDVSA must pay $840 million by Oct. 27 to cover an amortization payment on the bond, and then has 30 more days to make a $107 million interest payment.

“PDVSA has been making payments on the 2020 bond and they tell us they plan to keep doing so,” said one local financial operator who has spoken with the company about the plans.

To be sure, this year PDVSA has made payments only on its 2020 and 2022 bonds, prompting ratings agencies to declare the company and Venezuela’s government in selective default. The drop in crude prices that began in 2014 and an ensuing decline in production have reduced the OPEC nation’s government revenue.

Investors believe PDVSA will prioritize the 2020 bond because of the potential implications for Citgo. The remaining shares in the refiner are already pledged to Russia’s Rosneft as collateral on a $1.5 billion loan.

And it is also under threat from Canadian miner Crystallex, which has won a judge’s authorization to seize Citgo shares to collect on a $1.4 billion award stemming from a decade-long nationalization dispute.

“PDVSA has demonstrated via its legal efforts a strong preference to maintain ownership of Citgo,” JP Morgan wrote in a note to clients last week.

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#LatAmNRG

Venezuela to Continue in Defense of Oil Market Equilibrium

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 29.Sep.2018) — Venezuela’s Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo announced the South American country would continue to seek equilibrium in the petroleum market.

“Under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro, we will continue to defend a policy of equilibrium and stabilization in the world oil market, having as a fundamental basis a sustained cooperation with OPEC producing countries for the benefit of consumers, producers and investors,” reported PDVSA in an official statement, citing Quevedo.

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PDVSA Inks $430 Mln Deal in Effort to Boost Oil Output

(S&P Global, Mery Mogollon, 30.Aug.2018) — State-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA signed a $430 million service agreement with seven companies to boost its oil production by 641,000 b/d, company president Manuel Quevedo said in a statement Wednesday.

The companies on the other side of deal are: Well Services Cavallino, Petro Karina, Helios Petroleum Services, Shandong Kerui Group, Rinaca Centauro Karina Consortium, Oil Consortium Tomoporo and Venenca. The companies will help boost output from wells in the Arecuna, Sanvi Guere, Orocual, Dacion, Jusepin, Franquera-Tomoporo and Carito-Pirital fields, the statement said.

According to the statement, current production at the fields is 384,000 b/d.

“We have the opportunity to increase oil production at these fields by 641,000 b/d,” said Quevedo.

“We will provide legal security, investment facilities and the production of each barrel of crude will be recognized a fair rate,” Quevedo added.

Venezuela holds the world’s largest crude reserves, but has seen its oil industry crumble amid mismanagement, corruption and a lack of investment.

Venezuela’s crude output fell to 1.2 million b/d in July, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC production survey.

In 2007, the Venezuelan government expropriated assets from international companies that operated light, medium, heavy and extra-heavy crude fields under contracts signed in the 1990s.

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Venezuela Aims To Boost Oil Output By 640 Mb/d

(OilPrice.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, 30.Aug.2018) — Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA has said that it signed a US$430 million joint service agreement with seven companies that would help it increase its crude oil production by 641,000 barrels per day.

The companies will help PDVSA to raise production at wells at the oil fields Arecuna, Sanvi Guere, Orocual, Dación, Jusepín, Franquera-Moporo, and Carito – Pirital, the state firm said in a statement.

Currently, the 14 wells where Venezuela will look to boost production pump 384,000 bpd, Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said, adding that “we have the opportunity to raise production by 641,000 bpd,” and hailing the agreement as “the beginning of a new era at PDVSA.”

This is not the first time that Venezuela has claimed it has grand plans to boost its production. Quevedo said last month that he had discussed plans with PDVSA to raise the country’s crude oil production in the second half of the year.

Venezuela is suffering the worst loss of oil production in history amid an unprecedented economic collapse, years of mismanagement and underinvestment in the oil industry, an aggravating humanitarian crisis, and a leader who is hell-bent on clinging to power. Venezuela’s inflation will surge to a staggering one million percent by the end of this year as the country with the world’s biggest oil reserves remains stuck in a profound economic and social crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts.

Venezuela’s collapse, alongside U.S. sanctions on Iran, have been putting upside pressure on oil prices for months, and is expected to continue to do so, as analysts don’t see an end to the crisis in sight.

According to OPEC’s secondary sources, Venezuela’s oil production in July dropped to below the 1.3-million-bpd mark—at 1.278 million bpd, plunging 47,700 bpd from June. This compares with an average of 2.154 million bpd in 2016, and an average of 1.911 million bpd in 2017.

Some analysts expect Venezuela’s production to fall to below 1 million bpd by the end of this year.

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Oil Workers Support Maduro’s Economic Plans

Venezuelan oil workers march thru the streets of Caracas. Source: PDVSA

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 21.Aug.2018) — Oil workers at state oil company PDVSA marched in Caracas and across the country to show their continued support of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro in the aftermath of recent economic announcements by the official.

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Rafael Ramírez Says Maduro Destroyed PDVSA

(Energy Analytics Institute, Jared Yamin, 19.Aug.2018) – Former PDVSA President Rafael Ramírez says Venezuela produced 3 million barrels per day until December 2013. That figure has dropped by 1.8 million, according to his statements.

“When we were in the revolutionary government of Comandante Chávez, we had fiscal balance and enough income for all social programs, not because the price was 100 dollars a barrel, as the infamous say (we showed that we only had those prices for 4 years, the rest of the years prices were between 22 and 42 dollars a barrel, much less than now), but, precisely, because we charged transnationals and PDVSA all the taxes and royalties without exemptions of any kind. But, in addition, we had oil production of 3 million barrels per day until December 2013,” writes Ramírez in a blog post on Medium.

A PDV petrol station in the once popular Las Mercedes section of Caracas, Venezuela. Prior to its takeover, the station was controlled and run by Chevron Corporation. Source: Energy Analytics Institute (EAI)

“Now, the government has destroyed PDVSA, its production has fallen, in just 4 years (with a dramatic drop since Quevedo entered) to 1.2 million barrels a day due to the inability and irresponsibility of Maduro in the management of oil issues. In PDVSA, we have lost 1.8 million barrels per day, at an average price of 63 dollars per barrel, we are talking about 113.4 million dollars every day, which [is to say] they [have] stopped receiving, 4.139 million dollars a year!,” writes Ramírez, who also served as Venezuela’s Minister of Petroleum, among other posts during the governments of the late President Hugo Chávez and current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, until his departure and rupture with the latter.

“Now, the owners of the petroleum, that’s to say, the Venezuelan citizens, have to pay the international price for gasoline, as if [Venezuela] were not a petroleum country.” — Ramírez

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PDVSA President Says Venezuela Production Stabilized

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 10.Aug.2018) – PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo assured that Venezuelan crude oil production had stabilized.

Quevedo, who also serves as Venezuela’s Petroleum Minister, said last week that “our production is approximately 1.5 million barrels a day for the first half of 2018.” Those remarks were made during a meeting in Caracas, and published in an official statement released by PDVSA, as the state oil entity is known.

Venezuelan oil production. Source: Trading Economics

Venezuela  – reeling in political, economic and humanitarian crises and suffering from the world’s highest inflation – has seen its production of crude oil fall off a cliff amid a near complete collapse in support from foreign partners and an inability by PDVSA to generate sufficient cash flow and/or financing to engage in activities to stop further production declines.

To this end, Quevedo commented: Venezuela plans to implement plans to “reactivate dormant oil wells, mature fields and fields entered into a non-scheduled delayed production due to foreign logistics sabotage.”

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Venezuela Facing Compounding Oil Woes

(UPI, Daniel J. Graeber, 10.Aug.2018) – Though it holds the largest reserves of oil in the world, production levels put it only in the middle of the pack among OPEC member states.

Venezuelan plans to stabilize crude oil production do little to address bottlenecks and the shortage of investments, an analyst said Friday.

Manuel Quevedo, the head of state-controlled Petróleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, announced crude oil production has stabilized after a chronic decline and the country was looking to pick up the pace by tapping its mature assets.

Despite its vast reserves, corruption and international isolation have impacted oil production from one of the founding members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Secondary sources reporting to OPEC economists put Venezuelan production at 1.3 million barrels per day on average last month, down 38 percent from the 2016 average.

Adrian Lara, a senior oil and gas analyst at GlobalData, said in comments emailed to UPI that Venezuela has issues building up on issues, from actual production to refinery problems.

“So not only (do) the challenges remain, but they compound on each other on a path that could prolong and increase the decline rate of oil production in the Orinoco Belt,” he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Orinoco Belt holds a mean volume of 513 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil reserves. An annual review of global reserves from Italian energy company Eni put Venezuela at the top of the list. While the United States was the top producer last year, its total reserves represented about 10 percent of Venezuela’s.

Lara said focusing on mature assets could be a sound strategy for Venezuela, but that would require significant investments in a country facing profound economic crises.

“Without details on the strategy it is difficult to assess how PDVSA can implement a plan where the loss of production in the Orinoco Belt can be compensated by these fields’ production,” he said.

In an outlook on Latin America, the International Monetary Fund noted real gross domestic product for Venezuela is on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the third year in a row for a double-digit decline in oil revenue was $22 billion last year, compared with about $70 billion in 2011. Total Venezuelan exports are 10 percent lower than 2016 levels.

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Venezuela, Saudi Arabia Discuss Partnerships

Venezuela’s Manuel Quevedo and Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Venezuela Saad Bin Abdullah al Saad in Caracas. Source: PDVSA

(Energy Analytics Institute, Ian Silverman, 8.Aug.2018) — Officials from both OPEC countries discussed existing energy partnerships during their meeting in Caracas.

Venezuela was represented by its Petroleum Minister Manuel Quevedo, while Saudi Arabia was represented by its Ambassador to Venezuela Saad Bin Abdullah al Saad, reported PDVSA in an official statement.

The officials discussed issues related to the petroleum markets as well as immediate work actions related to petroleum projects of joint interest between both countries.

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Venezuela Dodges Oil Asset Seizures

(Reuters, Marianna Parraga, Mircely Guanipa, 7.Aug.2018) – Reuters) – Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA has limited the damage from an unprecedented slump in crude exports by transferring oil between tankers at sea and loading vessels in neighboring Cuba to avoid asset seizures.

But the OPEC member nation is still fulfilling less than 60 percent of its obligations under supply deals with customers.

Venezuela has been pumping oil this year at the lowest rate in three decades after years of underinvestment and a mass exodus of workers. The state-run firm’s collapse has left the country short of cash to fund its embattled socialist government and triggered an economic crisis.

PDVSA’s problems were compounded in May when U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips began seizing PDVSA assets in the Caribbean as payment for a $2 billion arbitration award. An arbitration panel at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) ordered PDVSA to pay the cash to compensate Conoco for expropriating the firm’s Venezuelan assets in 2007.

The seizures left PDVSA without access to facilities such as Isla refinery in Curacao and BOPEC terminal in Bonaire that accounted for almost a quarter of the company’s oil exports.

Conoco’s actions also forced PDVSA to stop shipping oil on its own vessels to terminals in the Caribbean, and then onto refineries worldwide, to avoid the risk the cargoes would be seized in international waters or foreign ports.

Instead, PDVSA asked customers to charter tankers to Venezuelan waters and load from the company’s own terminals or from anchored PDVSA vessels acting as floating storage units.

The state-run company told some clients in early June it might impose force majeure, a temporary suspension of export contracts, unless they agreed to such ship-to-ship transfers.

PDVSA also requested the customers stop sending vessels to its terminals until it could load those that were already clogging Venezuela’s coastline.

Initially, customers were reluctant to undertake the transfers because of costs, safety concerns and the need for specialist equipment and experienced crew.

But PDVSA has managed to export about 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil since early July, up from just 765,000 bpd in the first half of June, according to Thomson Reuters data and internal PDVSA shipping data seen by Reuters.

That was still 59 percent of the country’s 2.19 million bpd in contractual obligations to customers for that period, and some vessels are still waiting for weeks in Venezuelan waters to load oil.

There were about two dozen tankers waiting this week to load over 22 million barrels of crude and refined products at the country’s largest ports, according to Reuters data.

“We are not tied to one option or a single loading terminal,” PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo said on Tuesday of the company’s exports. “We have several (terminals) in our country and we have some in the Caribbean, which of course facilitate crude shipping to fulfill our supply contracts.”

CUBAN CONNECTION

PDVSA has also used a route through Cuba to ease the impact of the Conoco seizures. That route is for fuel rather than crude.

The Venezuelan company has used a terminal at the port of Matanzas as a conduit mostly for exporting fuel oil, according to two people familiar with the operations and Thomson Reuters shipping data. Venezuela’s fuel oil is burned in some countries to generate electricity.

Two tankers set sail from the Matanzas terminal for Singapore between mid-May and early July, Reuters data showed. Each ship carried around 500,000 barrels of Venezuelan fuel, Reuters data shows.

In recent months, Venezuela has been shipping fuel to Matanzas in small batches, according to the data.

PDVSA and Cuba’s state-run oil firm Cupet have used Matanzas to store Venezuelan crude and fuel in the past but exports from the terminal to Asian destinations are rare.

That is in part because vessels that use Cuban ports cannot subsequently dock in the United States due to the U.S. commercial embargo on Cuba.

Cupet did not respond to requests for comment.

PDVSA has also used ship-to-ship transfers to fulfill an unusual supply contract it has with Cuba’s Cienfuegos refinery.

The refinery dates from the 1980s – when Cuba was a close ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War – and the facility was built to process Russian crude.

PDVSA typically uses its own or leased tankers to bring Russian crude from storage in the nearby Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao to Cienfuegos. But it is now discharging the imported Russian oil at sea in Cayman Islands’ waters via these seaborne transfers.

ConocoPhillips last month ratcheted up its collection efforts by moving to depose officials from Citgo Petroleum, PDVSA’s U.S. refining arm, arguing it had improperly claimed ownership of some PDVSA cargoes.

Citgo declined to comment.

ConocoPhillips is also preparing new legal actions to get Caribbean courts to recognize its International Chamber of Commerce arbitration award. If it succeeds in those efforts, it would be able to sell the assets to help satisfy the ruling.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Venezuela; additional reporting by Marc Frank in Havana; Editing by Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot

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Former Cerro Negro Workers Still Seek Payment

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 23.Jul.2018) – It has been 11 years and the 7,000 direct and indirect Venezuelan workers of US oil company Exxon Mobil still haven’t received their social benefits or other liquidations.

Those payment were assumed by the government of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez when his administration nationalized Exxon Mobil’s Cerro Negro heavy oil project located in the Hugh Chavez Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, also known as the Faja.

“Several coworkers have died during this long time waiting while others have left the country, but we continue to demand our rights,” reported the daily newspaper El Nacional, citing Luis Vega, spokesman for those affected. In 2007, labor liabilities reached $5.2 billion, a figure that has increased due to accumulated interest, he said.

Many of the workers are from the Venezuelan states of Monagas, Sucre, Anzoátegui, Bolívar, Guárico and Delta Amacuro, said Vega.

About a month ago, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro instructed PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo to solve the problem.

“PDVSA recognizes the debt, but doesn’t want to pay us alleging that [former PDVSA President] Rafael Ramírez stole the money,” added Vega.

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Venezuela Claims It Plans To Raise Oil Production

(OilPrice.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, 17.Jul.2018) – Venezuela’s Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo has discussed plans with state-held oil company PDVSA to raise the country’s crude oil production in the second half of the year.

While Venezuela and its struggling oil firm claim that they are revising their production planning in order to increase the country’s oil production capacity and make this year a year of “consolidation and stabilization”, basically no one else thinks or claims that Venezuela could soon be able to reverse its steep production decline which sees it losing more than 40,000 bpd of crude oil production every month for several months now.

According to OPEC’s secondary sources in the latest Monthly Oil Market Report, Venezuela’s crude oil production dropped in June by 47,500 bpd from May, to average 1.340 million bpd last month. This compares with an average of 2.154 million bpd in 2016, and an average of 1.911 million bpd in 2017. Venezuela, for its part, has been self-reporting to OPEC much higher production figures, with the June production reported at 1.531 million bpd.

Amid plummeting crude oil production, PDVSA is said to have failed to honor its supply obligations in early June, and has started to refine imported crude oil.

The plunging oil production is nearing the psychological threshold of just 1 million bpd as early as this year, analysts and industry experts say, and don’t see how production can be restored after years of underinvestment and mismanagement.

On top of the lack of investment and an exodus of oil workers who don’t see the point of working for salaries that become worthless overnight due to the 13,860-percent hyperinflation, ConocoPhillips is looking to and is already seizing PDVSA assets in the Caribbean in a bid to enforce a court ruling that awarded the U.S. firm US$2 billion in compensation for the forced nationalization of company assets in Venezuela.

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Quevedo Prays for Higher Venezuelan Output

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 8.Jul.2018) – Venezuela’s Oil Minister General Manuel Quevedo prayed to God in search of divine assistance to boost Venezuela’s oil production.

The prayer was made by Quevedo during his participation in a special mass held at the headquarters of PDVSA and Venezuela’s Oil Ministry in the company of workers from both entities, reported PetroGui@, citing an official statement from the Oil Ministry.

“The recovery of PDVSA is also the recovery of the whole country,” said Priest Pablo Urquiaga of the Church of the Resurrection of the Lord in Caricuao, during the ceremony in La Campiña.

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PDVSA, Rosneft Officials Discuss Projects

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 28.Jun.2018) – Officials from both oil companies held meetings in Caracas to discuss partnerships.

PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo, who also serves as Venezuela’s Oil Minister, conducted a meeting with Rosneft Vice President Didier Casimiro to discuss joint projects between the Venezuelan and Russian companies, respectively, and consider new opportunities to strengthen strategic relationships, announced PDVSA in an official statement.

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Stuart Young Leads Venezuelan Energy Talks

(LoopTT, 27.Jun.2018) – Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs and Minister of Communications Stuart Young led a Trinidad and Tobago delegation in Venezuela on Wednesday.

The team comprised of the President of the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC), Mark Loquan, former PS Selwyn Lashley and other members of NGC to Caracas, Venezuela to continue negotiations with respect to the Venezuelan Dragon across the border gas field.

The Venezuelan delegation was led by Minister Manuel Quevedo, People’s Minister of Petroleum and President of PDVSA, Vice Minister Douglas Sosa and executives of PDVSA and the Venezuelan Ministry of Petroleum.

Executives of Shell were also in attendance led by Derek Hudson, Country Chair of Shell Trinidad’s operations.

The parties spent hours negotiating, bringing the possibility of the cross-border gas deal closer.

There remains a number of areas where further work is required and Minister Young agreed to return to Caracas, Venezuela in two weeks for the two Ministers to attempt to settle the terms of the agreement.

Minister Young extended an invitation for Minister Quevedo to come to Trinidad to visit the LNG and other downstream Petro-chem operations.

All parties involved remain committed to the Dragon Gas Project becoming a reality.

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