(Reuters) – Venezuela’s oil exports rose last month, boosted by larger sales to customers aiming to take as many cargoes as possible before a U.S. deadline to wind-down trade with the sanctioned nation, according to data from state-run PDVSA and Refinitiv Eikon.
Washington gave PDVSA’s customers deadlines ranging between October and November for ending exemptions to U.S. sanctions allowing some firms still to receive Venezuelan oil, so a handful of clients in September began scheduling their last cargoes to depart from the OPEC-member nation.
A total of 24 cargoes departed from PDVSA’s ports in September carrying some 690,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude and fuel for exports, the highest level registered since April, according to the documents and data.
Over 40% of the shipments set sail to India, followed by exports to other destinations in Asia and the Middle East. Exports to Europe remained stable around 60,000 bpd.
Even including the September hike, Venezuela’s oil exports averaged 503,000 bpd in the third quarter, their lowest level in over 70 years and 11% below the previous quarter’s average, the data showed.
September exports included the departure of a Venezuela-owned tanker, the Maximo Gorki, carrying 2 million barrels of heavy crudes for an undisclosed customer in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
A similar cargo of Venezuelan oil on an Iran-flagged tanker, Horse, which delivered Iranian condensate to PDVSA last month, is expected to set sail in the coming days. The cargo has been sold to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Iran and Venezuela, both under U.S. sanctions, have increased cooperation this year, especially in the oil trade, infuriating the U.S. government, which in July seized over 1 million barrels of Iranian fuel allegedly bound for Venezuela through a civil forfeiture case.
Gasoline-thirsty Venezuela also increased its oil imports in September to 156,000 bpd of condensate, gasoline and diesel, almost triple the volume received in August, through oil swaps with its customers and business partners.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa; Editing by Daniel Flynn and David Gregorio)