PdV promising more fuel production in April

Venezuelan state-owned PdV plans to expand gasoline production to 65,000 b/d and diesel output to 80,000 b/d by mid-April when it restarts key processing units at the Puerto La Cruz and El Palito refineries.

If PdV achieves its official deadlines for restarting 190,000 b/d Puerto La Cruz by 3 April and 146,000 b/d El Palito by the third week of April, total local operational crude processing capacity could reach about 350,000 b/d within three weeks.

"Repairs of critical processing units are advancing quickly at Puerto La Cruz and El Palito," a PdV manager at the Cardon refinery said. "We're now on track to achieve the highest operational refining volumes since 2018 before the end of April."

PdV often sets ambitious refining targets which are later thwarted by equipment breakdowns or industrial service cuts.

In recent years, PdV's main domestic fuel source is the 940,000 b/d CRP refining complex on the Paraguana peninsula, which includes the 305,000 b/d Cardon refinery and 635,000 b/d Amuay refinery. The CRP is currently processing about 180,000 b/d of crude.

Cardon's 86,000 b/d fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) and 54,000 b/d naphtha reformer are producing around 40,000 b/d of gasoline, CRP operational reports dated 30 March show. Diesel production at the CRP is running around 55,000 b/d.

Puerto La Cruz is scheduled to restart a 16,000 b/d FCC and a hydrodesulfurization unit this weekend. The refinery currently has a single operational distillation unit capable of processing up to 80,000 b/d of crude.

If PdV successfully restarts Puerto La Cruz's FCC, local gasoline output would increase to about 55,000 b/d from next week, easing a year-old gasoline shortage which has forced the government to maintain draconian rationing measures since March 2020.

PdV also expects to restart the FCC and distillation and desulfurization units at El Palito before the end of April, boosting total gasoline output from the CRP, Puerto La Cruz and El Palito to 65,000 b/d.

The volumes still fall short of demand, which the oil ministry pegs at 100,000 b/d for gasoline and 110,000 b/d for diesel.

Venezuela had not suffered tightness in diesel supply until recent weeks, after the US cut off crude-for-diesel swaps at the end of last year as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign.