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Venezuela diverts oil cargo to small Cuban port as terminal fires continue

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Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA diverted two crude cargoes that were due to be unloaded at Cuba's Matanzas terminal, leaving the island's main storage, Refinitiv Eikon data and company documents showed on Tuesday. The fire, which destroyed 40% of the facility, lasted five days.

A lightning strike on Friday set one of his crude storage tanks on fire at a 2.4 million barrel facility, then spread to three others, causing a major blackout.

Since most of the oil shipments from Venezuela to Cuba are usually destined for Matanzas (the main facility for the distribution of domestic crude oil and the receipt of imports), the incident left PDVSA unloading at other locations. Forced to find a port.

According to Eikon data and documents, the Cuban-flagged tanker Maria Cristina, which was offloading Venezuelan crude oil at Matanzas when the fire started, was carrying the remaining cargo. Heading to Santiago for.

Another Venezuelan crude oil cargo onboard the Cuban-flagged tanker Vilma was diverted to the port of Antilas on Saturday and is now awaiting discharge, data and documents also show. .

Matanzas is the only Cuban terminal capable of accepting large tankers rated at over 100,000 tons dead weight, so vessels waiting around the small Cuban ports will have time to unload. cost or may require ship-to-ship transfers.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Her two other ships, Lourdes and Esperanza, which cover routes between Venezuela and Cuba, are waiting to load crude oil at PDVSA's Jose port this week. According to documents, they were due to be discharged in Matanzas.

Mexico and Venezuela have dispatched crews, chemical-laden aircraft and firefighters to Cuba specialized in dealing with fuel fires. Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel said over the weekend that a fire of this magnitude would be very difficult to control in Cuba, which lacks the necessary equipment and supplies.

Venezuela, a major source of Cuba's imported crude oil and fuels, sent about 57,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the island in the first seven months of this year, matching the amount from the previous year.

The cargo arrives stowed in a reduced fleet of old tankers owned by Cuba or Venezuela.

(Reporting by Marianna Paraga of Houston; Editing by Margherita Choi)