October Venezuela oil output up with condensate

Venezuela October oil production reached 765,000 b/d, according to an analysis of PdV figures seen by Argus, a gain of more than 100,000 b/d on figures PdV reported in September.

Iranian condensate, which is used to dilute heavy Venezuelan crudes to make them flow more easily from the wellhead, has played a key role in rising production, according to PdV, its foreign partners and analysts. From January to October about 53,000 b/d of Iranian condensate arrived in Venezuela, up from 25,000 b/d in the same period a year earlier, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa. This may exclude some shipments, such as those from vessels in dark fleets which turn off shipping signals. Iranian condensate imports to Venezuela reached 66,200 b/d in October.

The most recent shipments include a 2mn bl cargo at the Jose port on the tanker Herby on 11 August, a 1.95mn bl cargo on the Serena on 15 August and 2.1mn bl on the Huge on 3 October, according to Vortexa. Another cargo is expected in mid-November, a source at one of PdV's international partners told Argus.

Venezuela is paying for the condensate by barter, trading three barrels of Merey 16┬░API crude for every single barrel of Iranian condensate, according to the source.

PdV tries to separate out the condensate when it goes through upgraders, so it can be reused at the wellhead to dilute heavy crude for transport. But that has not been happening consistently, and sometimes the condensate is refined into finished fuels.

The 765,000 b/d figure is an analysis of PdV data done by Caracas-based analysts Gas Energy.

PdV is drawing production from new wells in the area south of Maracaibo Lake in Zulia state starting in October, Gas Energy told Argus, which has stopped a noticeable decline in production from the country's Occidente division. But flooding and an uptick in street crime in the region cut output there to 98,180 b/d, down from nearly 150,000 b/d.

The Orinoco belt produced 490,000 b/d in October, foreign and minority stake holders were told last week, while the Oriente produced more than 180,000 b/d.