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Ten tankers anchored, awaiting payment from PDVSA for refined products

Caracas, Venezuela β€” Ten oil tankers remain anchored Monday at ports throughout the Caribbean, awaiting payment from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA to discharge 3.124 million barrels of refined products, according to sources.

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Two vessels holding a combined 1 million barrels of heavy virgin naphtha are sitting at the Jose facility, according to S&P Global Platts Anlytics cFlow and marine terminal operators, who spoke with Platts on the condition of anonymity.

Another 1.5 million barrels of 91 RON and 95 RON gasoline blendstock is waiting at the ports of El Palito and Puerto La Cruz on five vessels, while three more ships are holding MTBE, naphtha and alkylate at Amuay, Aruba and Punta Cardon, respectively.

All ships are waiting for payment by PDVSA, according to sources. PDVSA could not immediately be reached for comment.

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One market source said Venezuela apparently did not come out to buy a lot of gasoline and diesel for May deliveries, implying PDVSA might use the cargoes that are waiting to supply May's needs.

"We did not see them as big buyers for May deliveries of gasoline and diesel, so I guess they feel comfortable with the ships waiting," he said.

Payment has been coming, but very slowly, the source added.

Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA has been purchasing heavy virgin naphtha (HVN) to blend with Orinoco Belt heavy crude. The blended diluted crude oil (DCO) is then exported.

The scarcity of HVN in Venezuela has caused a slowdown in the production and export of DCO by PDVSA to its principal markets in the US and Asia, accelerating the financial deterioration and production decline in Venezuela.

Each barrel of DCO contains approximately 25% naphtha.

The Orinoco Belt is estimated to contain 220 billion barrels of crude over 55,314 square kilometers in southern states Guarico, Anzoategui and Monagas.

PDVSA has also been increasing its refined products purchases to supply the domestic market, as its refineries are running below capacity.

PDVSA has experienced frequent problems at its main refineries: the 645,000 b/d Amuay plant, 310,000 b/d Cardon plant, 187,000 b/d Puerto La Cruz plant and 140,000 b/d El Palito plant.

Venezuela's 955,000 b/d Paraguana Refining Center was operating at 181,000 b/d Monday, or 19 % of capacity, PDVSA said in a technical report. Located in northwestern Venezuela, the CRP complex includes the Amuay refinery and Cardon refinery. The complex also includes the Bajo Grande asphalt plant, which has been closed since 2012.

The technical report said Amuay was operating at 120,000 b/d, or 18.6% of capacity, and Cardon was operating at 61,000 b/d, or 19.7% of capacity .

Petroleum vessels waiting for PDVSA payments (vessel, volume, commodity, port, arrival date): Nave Cielo, 500,000, heavy virgin naphtha, Jose, May 10; Nave Cetus, 500,000, heavy virgin naphtha, Jose, May 11; Alpine Eternity, 300,000, 91 RON blendstock, El Palito, April 20; Iver Experience, 300,000, 91 RON blendstock, El Palito, April 27; Atlantic Grace, 300,000, 91 RON blendstock, El Palito, April 17; Alpine Marina, 300,000, 91 RON blendstock, Puerto La Cruz, May 5; Marlin Ammolite, 300,000, 95 RON blendstock, El Palito, May 13; Nordic Army, 240,000, MTBE, Amuay, May 8; Atlantic Lily, 120,000, naphtha, Aruba, May 6; Maritime Tuntiga, 264,000, alkylate, Punta Cardon, May 13.

--Mery Mogollon, with Silvia Struthers in Houston,

--Edited by Jeff Mower,