Venezuela diverts the oil ships that were heading to Matanzas after the fire at the Supertanker Base

The Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA diverted two shipments of crude oil that were to be unloaded at the Cuban terminal in Matanzas due to the serious fire that broke out at the Supertanker Base of that city on Friday, and that would have devastated around 40% of the main storage facility on the Island.

Data from Refinitiv Eikon and company documents seen by Reuters showed on Tuesday, the incident forced PDVSA to look for other ports to unload.

Due, the Cuban-flagged oil tanker María Cristinaoperated by the military business conglomerate GAESA and who was unloading Venezuelan crude in Matanzas when the fire started, is heading to Santiago de Cuba to deliver their remaining cargo there.

Another shipment of Venezuelan crude, aboard the tanker Vilmaalso operated by GAESA and sailing under the Cuban flag, was diverted on Saturday to the port of Antilla, in Holguínwhere it now waits to be downloaded, as data and documents also show.

Matanzas is the only Cuban terminal with the capacity to receive large tankers with 100,000 deadweight tons or moreso ships waiting in Cuba’s smaller ports may take longer to unload or require ship-to-ship transfers.

The facility has a storage capacity of around 2.4 million barrels, making it a key facility for the distribution of Cuban crude and for receiving imports.

Two other ships that cover the Venezuela-Cuba route, the Lourdes and the Esperanza, are waiting this week to load crude oil at PDVSA’s José port. Both had been scheduled to unload in Matanzas.

Mexico and Venezuela have sent specialized crews to Cuba to fight fuel fires, planes loaded with chemical products and an extinguishing ship, but their use could not be made effective until most of the fuel stored in the four tanks affected by the the sinister.

Miguel Díaz-Canel said over the weekend that a fire of such magnitude would be very difficult to control in Cuba, which lacks the necessary equipment and supplies.

Venezuela, which is the main source of imported crude oil and fuel from Cuba, sent around 57,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the Island in the first seven months of 2022, in line with the volumes of the previous year.

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