HOUSTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Trading firms Vitol SA and Noble Group Ltd were awarded this week a tender to supply Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA with two cargoes of gasoline blendstock for November delivery, traders said on Tuesday.
The gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) at PDVSA’s Cardon refinery and other operational units were down for at least two weeks following a blackout in October, according to a union leader and workers.
Neighboring Amuay was also partially affected by October’s blackout. Both refineries make up Venezuela’s largest center and the world’s second with 955,000 barrels per day (bpd) of capacity.
PDVSA, which goes to the open market to buy fuels when it is facing problems or maintenance work at its domestic refining network, in October bought a 300,000-barrel cargo of gasoline blendstock and a 300,000-barrel cargo of cat gas, an intermediate product to formulate gasoline that goes out from a refinery’s FCC unit.
The two following cargoes with the same specifications, awarded to Noble and Vitol, will be delivered during November at PDVSA terminals.
PDVSA was not immediately available to comment.
The company is expected to launch a new tender in the second half of November to buy two more cargoes of fuels blendstock, traders added, which would make up for 1.8 million barrels in imports to satisfy Venezuela’s domestic consumption while its main refineries are not fully operating.
A similar situation a year ago forced the firm to buy some 2.4 million barrels of refined products after power outages. PDVSA has also been regularly importing heavy naphtha and African and Russian crudes during 2015 to use them as diluents for its extra heavy oil output.
Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston, with additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in Caracas and Mircely Guanipa in Paraguana; Editing by Marguerita Choy