Shipment of Iranian condensate arrives in Venezuela

A shipment of 2.1 million barrels of Iranian condensate arrived in Venezuelan waters this week, according to ship tracking data and a company document, delivering supplies to state oil company PDVSA to dilute its extra heavy oil to export.

Last year, Venezuela and Iran, sanctioned by the United States, agreed to a contract to exchange Iranian condensate, a very light form of oil, for Venezuelan heavy crude. Trade has proven essential in sustaining PDVSA’s production and expanding its exports.

The Iranian-flagged Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Dan, operated by Iran’s National Tanker Company (NITC), entered the anchorage at the Venezuelan port of Jose on Tuesday, according to vessel tracking service

Dan’s transponder has remained offline since early January, when the ship sailed through the Gulf of Oman carrying a cargo of oil, according to ship tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon.

PDVSA and National Iranian Oil Company, NITC’s parent company, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The tanker is the second Iranian ship to unload in Venezuela this year, following the arrival of the VLCC Starla in January, also owned and operated by NITC.

Last year, the two state-owned companies traded some 4.82 million barrels of condensate for 5.55 million barrels of heavy crude, mostly transported by Iranian ships.

Dan is expected to begin unloading Feb. 22 after Starla finishes unloading a second condensate package at the Jose terminal, according to a PDVSA schedule seen by Reuters.

While the swap helped PDVSA increase production, it also caused delays in unloading oil imports and loading crude cargoes for exports due to oil quality issues, lack of storage capacity and port congestion. PDVSA was recently forced to add floating storage to cope with large inventory.

(Reuters – Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Chris Reese)