Chevron is asking Venezuela to dredge the lake to boost oil exports Ship’s crew

By Fabiola Zerpa and Nicolle Yapur (Bloomberg) —

chevron corp is urging Venezuela to clean up Lake Maracaibo in hopes of almost doubling the amount of oil that can be loaded onto its ships, which are currently at risk of running aground over a buildup of sediment.

The US driller is paying for a study for state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA to measure the mud and debris in the water, according to people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because the plan was not made public.

Chevron Plans to Export Venezuelan Oil Faces Snafu Dredging

The study is intended to guide dredging operations which PDVSA would then carry out through a contractor. That dredging could allow Chevron’s ships to increase their current cargo to 400,000 barrels, compared to about 250,000 now, just months after the US eased restrictions on operations in the Latin American country.

Maracaibo, a Caribbean bay the size of Connecticut and one of the oldest lakes on earth, is the birthplace of Venezuela’s oil industry. After a century of relentless and – ultimately – ruthless drilling, oil slicks smudge the lake’s surface and sediments grow at the bottom.

PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment. In an emailed statement, Chevron confirmed it began shipping from Venezuela in January, but did not comment on the dredging work. “Our focus is on supporting safe and reliable operations,” the company said.

Chevron ships Venezuelan crude from Maracaibo to refineries on the Gulf Coast, including Mississippi’s Pascagoula facility, designed to process the South American country’s thick, sulfur-laden oil. Cargo exported by the US drill is limited to a maximum of 250,000 barrels as heavier cargoes cannot reach the Caribbean. While PDVSA initially approached a Dutch dredging company, no payment was made, the people said.

According to Vortexa and shipping data compiled by Bloomberg, Venezuelan crude exports fell in February as increased flows to the US failed to offset a sharp drop in volumes to China.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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