Venezuela's PDVSA, China's CNPC restart crude blending facility -document, source

10/09/2019 | 09:19pm

(Reuters) - Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corp have restarted crude blending operations at their Petrosinovensa joint venture this week, according to a document seen by Reuters and a source familiar with the matter.

Operations at the plant, located near eastern Venezuela's Jose terminal, were halted last week because of an accumulation of crude stocks, people familiar with the matter said. Inventories have been rising due to U.S. sanctions on the OPEC-member nation, leaving few companies willing to buy Venezuelan crude.

The facility, which blends extra-heavy, tar-like crude from the Orinoco oil belt with lighter grades, produced 105,000 barrels of Merey crude on Tuesday, according to the document.

PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.

It was the only blending facility operating. Petropiar, a joint venture between PDVSA and Chevron Corp, suspended blending operations in September as inventories rose. The company was repairing a gas leak and attempting to restart the facility, according to the document.

Venezuela reshuffled oil output in June to focus on producing Merey heavy crude, a blend of heavy and light oil most preferred by Asian refiners, hoping to secure exports. PDVSA lost its largest U.S. customers after Washington imposed sanctions in January.

(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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