LPG supply in Venezuela is growing nearly as scarce as gasoline as state-owned PdV struggles to resolve operational problems at its 200,000 b/d Jose Cryogenic Complex.
The complex is currently producing about 33,000 b/d of gas liquids including 13,000 b/d of propane or about a fifth of estimated national demand of 60,000 b/d, according to two PdV officials and a technical report seen by Argus.
Gas liquids output at Jose has fallen from 40,000 b/d at the end of May, including 15,000 b/d of propane.
The Jose complex produces all of Venezuela’s propane traditionally used for cooking. In the face of shortages, many Venezuelans resort to electric hotplates or firewood.
The government is prioritizing deliveries to Caracas, but the oil ministry concedes that even in the capital up to 85pc of households lack supply.
Among the problems at Jose are damaged pipelines, faulty valves, broken compressors and impaired storage tanks.
PdV also is having equipment problems at its upstream extraction operations in the San Joaquin-Anaco areas of Anzoategui and associated gas production from the Santa Barbara and Jusepin oil fields in Monagas state, the report adds.
PdV lacks replacement parts and skilled labor to repair equipment at the cryogenic complex where only one of four 50,000 b/d trains is partially operating, the PdV officials said.
Repair crews have been cannibalizing parts from the other trains in an effort to increase output at the only operational train and restart a second train that would enable PdV to raise LPG production to about 80,000 b/d, including up to 30,000 b/d of propane.
PdV has effectively abandoned its Ule and Bajo Grande extraction plants in the western state of Zulia where historically low crude output has dried up associated gas production.
The report adds that unstable electricity supply is “a constant impediment” to Jose operations.
“US sanctions have blocked access to foreign parts suppliers, PdV cannot get credit and oil export income has plummeted,” one of the PdV officials said. “We’re anticipating oil export revenues of about $5bn in all of 2020, so LPG imports are not an option either at this time unless we find suppliers willing to swap LPG for heavy crude.”
PdV currently swaps crude for diesel, making use of a diesel exemption in the US sanctions that is currently under review. With PdV’s refineries mostly down and Iranian imports exhausted, gasoline has nearly run out.