By Arathy Somasekhar and Marianna Parraga
HOUSTON (Reuters) – Chevron Corp (NYSE:) has stepped up sales of Venezuelan to rival U.S. refiners, adding PBF Energy (NYSE:) Inc and Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:) to its list of customers for the crude, vessel tracking and loading schedules showed.
U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, which historically processed Venezuelan oil, have shown a renewed appetite for the heavy sour crude grade after Chevron late last year received authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department to expand its operations in Venezuela and resume oil shipments to the U.S. after a four-year pause.
Chevron, the last big U.S. oil producer still operating in U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela, has increased exports of the crude since January.
So far in April, it has loaded about 148,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil at Venezuelan ports, with cargoes going to at least three other U.S. refiners, besides Chevron’s own refinery.
In mid-April, Chevron sold about 550,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude to PBF for its 185,000-bpd Chalmette refinery, near New Orleans, U.S. Customs data on Refinitiv Eikon showed.
Another 500,000 barrels were being loaded this week at Venezuela’s Jose terminal for delivery to Garyville, Louisiana, according to state-run oil company PDVSA loading schedules.
Marathon Petroleum owns and operates the 596,000-bpd Garyville refinery.
PBF and Marathon did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Chevron said it conducts business in compliance with all laws, regulations and a sanctions framework provided by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Valero Energy Corp (NYSE:) also has received cargoes from Chevron with tanker Caribbean Voyager discharging about 500,000 barrels at its 340,000-bpd St. Charles, Louisiana, refinery on Thursday.
The top independent refiner did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however, Gary Simmons, its chief commercial officer, said in an earnings call on Thursday that Venezuelan production is forecast to grow and help ease tight supplies of heavy sour crude oil.
Chevron has sent Venezuelan crude to its 369,000-bpd Pascagoula, Mississippi, refinery and this month shipped a cargo to a Bahamas oil-storage terminal, PDVSA’s schedules showed.
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