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Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA is owed a massive $21.2 billion from its oil sales, or around 84% of its total invoiced cargo shipments of the past three years, documents reviewed by Reuters showed this week.
After the U.S. sanctions on its exports, Venezuela started turning in 2020 to little-known oil trade intermediaries after the withdrawal of legacy oil buyers.
The value of Venezuela’s oil exports was $25.27 billion between January 2020 and March 2023. But documents provided to Venezuela’s attorney general during an audit of PDVSA contracts showed that the state oil firm could only confirm the receipt of just $4.08 billion of this, according to the documents Reuters has reviewed.
The $21.2 billion in payments still due to the company include $3.6 billion of bills that may never be collected after tankers loaded with Venezuelan oil failed to prepay at least part of the value of the cargo. The amount of the accounts receivable also includes an outstanding balance due to Venezuela by Iran under an oil swap deal, according to Reuters.
PDVSA is said to have tightened the prepayment rules for its oil after a review of contracts, demanding now cargoes be paid in cash or in goods and services that should be received before loadings can take place, Reuters reported at the end of January, quoting PDVSA documents it had seen.
In January, PDVSA suspended most of its crude oil exports and some fuel exports for a review of the contractual terms, a review that was to be conducted under the new head of the company, Pedro Rafael Tellechea.
Most recently, PDVSA’s former vice president of supply and trade, Antonio Perez Suarez, and some 20 executives who worked for him have been arrested, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
This week, Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s oil minister for three years, resigned amid a corruption probe into PDVSA.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday appointed PDVSA’s Tellechea to serve as the new oil minister.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com