Oil marine terminals in western Venezuela are underutilized: PDVSA report
www.hellenicshippingnews.com, 27th August 2014
Marine terminals in western Venezuela used to dispatch crude and derivatives and owned by the nation’s state-run oil company PDVSA are underutilized, according to a company technical report reviewed by Platts. “An elevated degree of obsolescence in infrastructure, delays in loading and launching of tankers, and high costs are affecting the utilization of the Western region terminals, which are the oldest in the system, especially those located in Zulia state,” the report said. The report was prepared by PDVSA’s trade and supply department. “[The] use factor of the docks on Maracaibo Lake is less than 70%. The rise in delays is attributable to deficiencies in tug boats, crude oil not fitting specifications and the low loading rates,” the report added. The report detailed the situations in the seven western terminals — four others are located in eastern Venezuela — that PDVSA operates in integrated fashion with refineries, storage tanks and pipelines that connect the petroleum production areas of Puerto Miranda, La Salina, Bajo Grande and Bajo Grande PDVSA Gas, all in Zulia, and the Amuay and Cardon terminals in Falcon state, and El Palito in Carabobo state. The terminals of Amuay, Cardon and El Palito are integrated with PDVSA refineries Amuay (645,000 b/d of capacity), Cardon (310,000 b/d) and El Palito (140,000 b/d). According to the report, Puerto Miranda, with a shipping and receiving capacity of 570,000 b/d and a storage capacity of 4.26 million barrels of crude and products, has a utilization factor of 55%, due to delays caused by problems with tugs and out-of-spec crude, including an excess of water. In La Salina, a terminal with shipping and receiving capacity of an average of 535,000 b/d and a storage capacity of 5.27 million barrels of crude and products, the use factor is only 25%. “The electric supply system (Substation 40-L) in La Salina is obsolete and does not guarantee the reliability of terminal operations. Fourteen storage tanks are overdue for maintenance and show signs of needing major repairs,” the report said. The Bajo Grande terminal, which has a shipping capacity of 96,000 b/d and maximum storage of 1.345 million barrels of crude, occasionally exhibits problems related to difficulties with vapor generation, an essential element in managing highly viscous Boscan crude and asphalt, resulting in a considerable decline in the loading rate of ships. Management of demand for Boscan crude, which comes from the Boscan field operated by PDVSA 60% and Chevron 40%, and of storage tanks out of service during periods of inventory accumulation, has caused increases in operational costs in shipping and receiving. The system used to pump crude to ships is obsolete and only partially functioning, causing a low rate of loading, the report said. The dock of Bajo Grande de PDVSA Gas that is used mainly for to receive propane from Jose Cryogenic in eastern Venezuela has seen a steady reduction in the average number of berthings or calls per month, which as a consequence has led to a low utilization capacity of 35%. The Amuay terminal, which has an average shipping capacity of 257,000 b/d and a storage capacity of 21.727 million barrels of crude and derivatives, shows a utilization factor of 74%. According to the report, this terminal receives 970 calls per year, which includes 54% of the shipments of products destined for the national market via coastal navigation. “Even though the Amuay terminal has nine slips for ships, it can only attend six ships simultaneously owing to space limitations in contiguous slips. The principal causes are: out-of-spec crude, broken equipment and systems, and wait time for tug boats,” the report said. In the Cardon terminal, which has a shipping capacity of 163,000 b/d, the utilization rate is 30%. “The delays have increased, which indicates that receiving and shipping capacity should increase and loading and offloading times should be reduced,” the report said. Finally, the report said that the El Palito terminal is showing delays as a consequence of the limited capacity of its docks.