Venezuela's state energy firm PDVSA has been shipping more oil to close ally Cuba, as tighter US sanctions have worsened fuel shortages on the Caribbean island.
Six vessels, most of them owned by PDVSA's maritime arm, have exported an average of 173,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan crude and fuel to Cuba so far this month.
At least two more cargoes are planned for the remainder of the month, according to the documents and data. In January, PDVSA's exports to Cuba dipped to their lowest since mid-2019, at just 56,600 bpd.
“There are more vessels setting sail to Cuba in the past two weeks,” said a ship supervisor working at a port on Venezuela's western coast. “They are going in and out very fast,” he added without elaborating on details about PDVSA's instructions.
Sanctions Washington imposed last year on PDVSA and Cuba's state-run Cubametales, with the aim of toppling Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, hampered PDVSA's oil shipments to Cuba, and the island's energy crisis hit its key sugar industry this month with two mills halting operations in peak harvesting season.
Cuba also has experienced hour-long lines at pumping stations, while in the far east of the island supply seems to have dried up. Gasoline stations received some supply for the first time in a week last Wednesday, but the fuel lasted only a few hours.
Similar shortages in September prompted PDVSA to send a flotilla of tankers with emergency cargoes of fuel oil and other refined products to Cuba. The help was short-lived as sanctions reduced the number of vessels available to transport PDVSA's oil to Cuba.