An internal report from state-run oil company PDVSA reveals that over half of Venezuela's oil tankers are so dilapidated that they require immediate repair or removal from service. The report, which was shared exclusively with Reuters, is titled “Critical deficiencies and risks of PDV Marina's tanker fleet” and outlines years of deferred maintenance that have resulted in low levels of reliability, putting the fleet at risk of spills, fires, collisions, sinking, or flooding. The ships lack seaworthiness classification and certifications by flag nations, making them vulnerable to legal action or detention in foreign ports.
PDVSA's Tanker Fleet Forces It to Charter Vessels and Pay High Rates
The state of PDVSA's tanker fleet has forced it to charter vessels to transport its oil, which provides the bulk of Venezuela's hard currency, according to the analysis by PDVSA's trade division. The fleet's deterioration has resulted in higher maintenance and repair costs and a decline in the quality of its operations, with some vessels past their recommended lifespan. The company has paid up to double the market rate, between $14,000 and $36,500 per day, to tanker owners willing to work with Venezuela despite U.S. sanctions imposed in 2019.
Delayed Ships Add to PDVSA's Woes
PDVSA has also faced problems with four tankers ordered from foreign shipyards, which have been held up due to payment delays, cost increases, and sanctions. Venezuela has paid shipyards in Iran and Argentina at least $300 million for six new vessels ordered as far back as 2005. It has only taken delivery of two of them, with four others yet to arrive due to various issues, including difficulties with parts supplies, problems with insurance and certifications, and payment delays.
Anti-Corruption Probe Adds Further Delays
The reports detailing the state of PDVSA's tanker fleet were prepared amid a wide-ranging anti-corruption probe ordered by Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro last October. More than 60 people have been arrested, and PDVSA's chief executive and the nation's oil minister have been replaced. The audits ordered by PDVSA's new CEO Pedro Tellechea as part of Maduro's anti-corruption probe could bring further delays, as all contracts are currently frozen. PDVSA's legal and supply and trade departments are asking PDV Marina for documentation on the contracts.
Recommendations from PDV Marina's Report
The PDV Marina report recommends withdrawing five tankers from active use, sending seven to shipyards for major repairs, and installing transponders, fire extinguishers, and communication equipment in others. However, no action has been taken as the audit on the company's operations continues. The report highlights the urgent need for PDVSA to address the fleet's deficiencies and take steps to ensure the safety and reliability of its tanker operations.