Burning petcoke cargo on ship holds up Venezuela exports
Venezuela's exports of petroleum coke, derived from the country's heavy oil, have been halted at its Petrosanfelix terminal since last week due to a burning cargo on a ship, according to a source and documents seen by Reuters on Friday.
The bulk carrier Top Trader was receiving the load from state-run PDVSA when burning petroleum coke was noticed in three of its containers, according to the source and written communication between the vessel's captain, charterer U.S. Koch Industries and the ship broker.
Petroleum coke is typically transported from the production facilities to the terminal at a high temperature, but many customers do not accept the load if they detect fire.
The Top Trader's crew added water to the containers earlier this week, but the problem could not be solved. An inspection might be requested to know if the burning load affected the vessel's structure, the source said.
PDVSA and Koch did not immediately answer requests for comment.
Venezuela is a prominent petroleum coke exporter, which is produced by joint ventures between PDVSA and foreign firms at four crude upgraders in the vast Orinoco belt, the country's main oil producing region.
Frequent outages and logistics problems have created an accumulation of million of tons of petroleum coke at PDVSA's Eastern terminals in recent years.
Besides Petrosanfelix, other facilities used by Venezuela to load coke also face delays. The bulk carrier Bonny Island has been loading at low rate since Nov. 10 at Petrocedeno terminal due to a equipment failure, according to a shipping report.
Also, terminals serving Venezuela's largest refineries, Amuay and Cardon, have been working partially in recent weeks due to loading problems and repairs, the report added.
The Top Trader loaded some 22,000 tonnes of coke, from a planned load of 49,000 tonnes. It has Europe as destination, but the captain has not yet received authorization from the insurance company and the broker to move it if the load is burning, the source said.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)