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Venezuela’s oil production up, exports down in May

Venezuela has reported crude production up slightly in the month of May, even as its oil exports appears to have declined to a more significant extent.

Argus Media, citing preliminary data drawn up by Venezuela’s national oil company (NOC) PdVSA, reported on June 5 that the country’s oil output has been officially calculated at 837,600 barrels per day in May. This would represent a rise of nearly 2.15% on the April figure of 820,000 bpd, the news service said.

It also quoted a source inside PdVSA as saying that the month-on-month discrepancy could grow even larger. Caracas is still checking its numbers before making its report to OPEC, and the final figures could end up being higher, said the source, who was not named.

Argus Media pointed out, though, that Venezuelan data was not always fully reliable. It also estimated that Venezuela had extracted only around 750,000 bpd of oil in April of this year.

The news service went on to say that PdVSA’s preliminary data showed that Venezuelan oil output had consisted mostly of Faja grade last month, with volumes standing at 498,400 bpd in May, up from in 481,000 bpd in April. Meanwhile, Oriente grade accounted for another 167,400 bpd of production in May, down from 169,000 bpd in April, while Occidente grade made up 171,900 bpd in May, up from 170,000 bpd in April.

Argus Media was reporting as Reuters published an article declaring that Venezuela’s oil exports had dropped last month. It said PdVSA and its joint venture had sold 606,258 bpd of crude oil to buyers in other countries in May, down by 14% on the April figure. The May average is also lower than the April figure, while the March figure is even smaller, the news agency stated.

It also pointed out, though, that the May figure was higher than those posted in January and February of this year, when the temporary suspension of contracts – a move related to a wide-ranging corruption investigation – put a freeze on some export shipments.

The recovery appears to have occurred as a result of the removal of large volumes of oil from PdVSA’s storage facilities. The NOC has been talking about working with its joint venture partners to boost output and make more oil available for export, especially grades that are in heavy demand such as the heavy sour grade Mere. It has not made much concrete progress on this front, though, so it has had to take crude out of storage to uphold its commitments.