Reuters: PDVSA tanker fleet at risk of sinking, fires and spills

A PDV Marina report obtained by Reuters recommended divesting five tankers from state-owned PDVSA’s fleet, sending another seven to dry dock for major repairs and installing transmitters, fire extinguishers and communication equipment on others. However, no action has yet been taken while the audit of the company’s operations progresses.

More than half of the 22 oil tankers that make up Venezuela’s own fleet are so deteriorated that they must be repaired immediately or disincorporated, according to an internal report from the state-owned PDVSA to which the agency Reuters had access.

According to the report of the maritime unit of Petróleos de Venezuela titled “Critical risk deficiencies of the PDV Marina tanker fleet”years of deferred maintenance have left the entire fleet with “low levels of reliability”, increasing the risks of spills, subsidence, fires, collisions and floods.

“Currently the ships do not have class certificates or statutory certification given by the (nations) flag,” the report said.

PDVSA and PDV Marina did not respond to requests for comment.

The report, dated March 2023, is one of eight documents to which the news agency had access that describe the state of the PDVSA tanker fleet, prepared by the corporate office of the state oil company, its commercial division and its maritime subsidiary; as well as by the Venezuelan maritime authority, the National Institute of Aquatic Spaces (INEA).

The existence of the documents had not been previously reported.

From January 2022 to March this year, the documents detail the condition of the company’s vessels, the freight costs of third-party vessels and the status of shipbuilding contracts with companies in Argentina and Iran.

The deterioration of the fleet has forced PDVSA to rent expensive ships to move its oil, which provides the bulk of the dollars Venezuela receives, according to analysis by the state company’s commercial division. PDVSA sold its six oldest tankers in 2014.

Neither the oil ministry nor INEA responded to requests for comment.

The reports were prepared amid an anti-corruption investigation. more widespread order ordered by the ruler of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, last October, after the discovery of billions of dollars in missing payments for oil exports.

More than 60 people from different state entities and private businessmen have been arrested. The executive president of PDVSA and the nation’s oil minister were replaced.

The PDV Marina report recommended disincorporating five tankers from the fleet, send another seven to dry dock for major repairs and install transmitters, fire extinguishers and communication equipment in others. No action has been taken yet while the audit of the company’s operations progresses.

*Read also: An average of seven trips per month were made by Cuban tankers to load PDVSA crude

Five of the ships pdvsa they are at least 30 years old, above their recommended useful life, according to the PDV Marina report. The last major maintenance job that was made to the fleet was five years ago, according to the report.

«The tanker fleet presents a decrease in the quality of its operations due to the high degree of physical deterioration, which translates into high maintenance and major repair costs in docks. The planning of previous dikes has been considerably affected by the lack of payment to shipyards and suppliers awarded for this purpose”, indicated the PDV Marina report.

Reuters has previously reported an increase in tanker collisions, spill risks and fires in Venezuela in recent years.

PDVSA leased 41 vessels in 2023, according to the documents, paying nearly double the market rate, between $14,000 and $36,500 per day, to tanker owners willing to work in Venezuela despite the sanctions imposed by the United States in 2019.

Read the full story from Reuters

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