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Oil tankers in limbo as Venezuela's PDVSA cannot pay BP - sources

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4 tankers rollover 2 million barrels of U.S. crude are stuck at sea and cannot discharge at a Caribbean terminal because Venezuela's PDVSA has actually not yet paid provider BP Plc (BP. L), according to 2 sources and Thomson Reuters vessel tracking information.

The freights belong to a tender Petroleos de Venezuela [PDVSA.UL], called PDVSA, awarded in March to BP and China Oil. The offer was to import some 8 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude so Venezuela could dilute its extra heavy crudes and feed its Caribbean refineries.

While 3 freights for this tender were delivered in April, 7 other vessels, consisting of BP's four worked with ones, are waiting to release, leaving up to 3.85 million barrels of WTI in limbo.

PDVSA did not instantly respond to a request for comment.

The company's cash crunch, which likewise influenced its oil imports late in 2014, have actually contributed to a stockpile of tankers since March due to malfunctioning packing arms at Jose, Venezuela's primary crude port.

PDVSA initially provided to pay for the imports with Venezuelan oil, however settlements for those swaps failed as the proposed packing windows and crude grades did not work for BP, a source close to the talks stated.

Amid low crude prices, decreasing exports and a harsh economic downturn at home, PDVSA has actually since 2015 delayed payments to suppliers. As a result, service firms consisting of Schlumberger (SLB.N), Halliburton (HAL.N) and Petrex have reduced operations in the OPEC nation.

The payment delays are likewise raising questions about who will pay for demurrage, or the day-to-day costs for hold-ups. Three of the BP tankers have been anchored for over 30 days.

As China already lifts Venezuelan crude as part of broader oil-for-loans offers, its companies have settled on swaps for this tender, the sources stated.

PORT PROBLEMS

Problems with packing arms to get tankers at Jose port have doubled wait times for carriers since March.

PDVSA said in a statement that installation of replacement equipment in the port's southern dock were successfully concluded on Tuesday.

Some 30 filthy tankers are presently waiting PDVSA's ports in Venezuela and Curacao.

PDVSA has turned into one of the largest buyers of U.S. crude since last month even with a slim arbitrage that makes most exports unappealing, analysts have actually stated, but payment delays could stymie its quote to continue imports.