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PDVSA tanker fleet flirting with disaster

PDV Marina A PDV Marina vessel at sea with boat in foreground
The tanker fleet of Venezuela’s oil major PDVSA is at risk of oil spills, sinking, fires, collision or flooding, according to an internal report seen by Reuters.

The report advised that half of the 22-strong fleet should be immediately repaired or taken out of service due to the effects of years of deferred maintenance. The last major fleet maintenance work was carried out five years ago, according to the report.

Five tankers should be taken out of service and seven immediately sent for repair, the report advised.

"The tanker fleet is showing a decline in the quality of its operations due to advanced physical deterioration, which implies higher maintenance and repair costs. Planning for sending the tankers to dry docks has been very affected by lack of payment to shipyards and providers," Reuters quoted the PDV Marina report as saying.

Venezuela has been affected by US sanctions for over 15 years, a regime which tightened during the Trump administration and is supported by EU and UK sanctions.

The sanctions have limited the ability of Venezuelan companies to make payments and significantly reduced the number of shipping companies willing to carry Venezuelan crude, increasing the cost to PDVSA of chartering in tonnage to substitute its ageing tankers.

Sanctions have also limited PDVSA’s options for ordering new vessels. The Reuters report notes ships on order in Iran and Argentina, deals fraught with delays and payment difficulties.