Oil tankers wait to unload in Curaçao port
WILLEMSTAD - More than a dozen oil tankers are waiting to discharge in the Curaçao port as ship owners and oil providers refuse to unload cargoes until the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA makes payments, according to sources and vessel tracking data.
Many of the vessels have arrived near the port under a type of prepayment agreement that involves loading cargoes and paying for them just before delivery.
Previously, sellers would extend credit to PDVSA. Now suppliers want cash before delivery because low oil prices have exacerbated the company's existing cashflow problems relating to insufficient revenue in hard currency and loan-for-oil agreements.
A PDVSA representative was not immediately available to comment. Last month, PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino said the company would honor all debts despite low oil prices.
Vessels awaiting payments are not only around Curaçao’s port, but also Venezuela and Bonaire. PDVSA operates storage and blending facilities at Bullenbaai in Curaçao. These tankers are snarling traffic for other vessels that would load crude and products for regular exports, the sources added.
Almost 50 empty vessels are moored around Curaçao’s Bullenbaai terminal, Bonaire and Venezuela’s main oil loading ports including Jose, Paraguana Refining Center, according to the tracking data.
Among the delayed cargoes are two 1-million-barrel cargoes of Angolan and Nigerian crudes PDVSA bought from Norway's Statoil and French Total that arrived in Curaçao in November and have not discharged. Another cargo of the same size was booked for December.
At least four cargoes of gasoline blend stock, cat gas, which is an intermediate gasoline, and diesel were also bought and scheduled for October and November delivery amid outages at some of PDVSA's main refineries, according to tenders and traders. Those tankers also arrived in recent weeks but have not been discharged either.
Separately, PDVSA has been receiving regular imports of heavy naphtha, metyl tert butil ether (MTBE) and reformate under supply agreements with private firms.
The payment delays have also started to hit freights.
A vessel hired by PDVSA to transport its oil has been moored since this past weekend on Nicaragua's coast, waiting for freight payments, according to a source at a brokerage firm who asked not to be identified. The same firm had stopped a tanker earlier this year for the same reason.