Venezuelan state-owned PdV utilized less than a quarter of the nameplate processing capacity at its main oil refineries in July, reflecting a shrinking pool of domestic feedstock and chronic equipment breakdowns.
According to internal company data obtained by Argus, monthly average refinery throughputs fell steadily since January 2018 at five refineries: the 940,000 b/d CRP complex, which includes the 635,000 b/d Amuay and 305,000 b/d Cardon refineries; the 146,000 b/d El Palito; and the 190,000 b/d Puerto La Cruz refinery. The company data also encompasses the PdV-leased 220,000 b/d Isla refinery on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao.
In July, throughput at the four facilities averaged 348,000 b/d, compared with total design capacity of around 1.5mn b/d, equivalent to 23.2pc utilization. January 2018 throughput averaged 591,000 b/d, or 39.4pc of nameplate capacity.
The 2018 refining data is more striking when compared with 2017, when throughput averaged 641,000 b/d or 42.7pc of its design potential. The year-to-date average through July 2018 was just 460,000 b/d, or 30.6pc of nameplate.
All of the refineries are running at consistently low levels, but Puerto La Cruz was nearly shut down altogether in July. PdV has been struggling to restart an $8bn project to upgrade the refinery to process heavier crude, but the company has no capital to pay its contractors.
PdV´s lease on the Isla refinery expires in December 2019. Curacao´s government plans to award a contract as early as next week to a third party to help revive Isla´s operations in the face of PdV´s near-abandonment of the facility.
PdV's dwindling crude production and operational refining capacity is reflected in widespread shortages of gasoline, diesel and other oil products in the domestic market.