(Adds context, details on Caribbean terminals)
HOUSTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - U.S. firm NuStar Energy this week began reopening its 13-million-barrel Statia oil terminal on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, a month after it was closed ahead of Hurricane Irma, a company official told Reuters.
Statia is crucial for Latin American crude storage and blending, especially for Venezuelan state-run PDVSA, which is one of its main users. The terminal also stores West African crude and loads large tankers to be shipped to U.S. refineries.
“We just opened up one of our loading stations yesterday,” said Danny Oliver, NuStar’s senior vice president of marketing and business development.
The company, which last month said some oil tanks and equipment at Statia sustained damage from Irma, expects to have the terminal fully working by mid-October, Oliver added.
A neighboring oil terminal in Puerto Rico operated by Buckeye Partners was also closed in September ahead of Hurricane Maria, adding to oil shipping and storage problems along the Atlantic basin in the middle of a very active storm season.
The scramble for oil barrels, especially fuel imports from the United States, pushed cargo owners to divert some of them from Venezuela after being resold to other customers.
Buckeye’s Yabucoa terminal resumed full service this week, including marine, truck and tank operations, the firm said, which could help easing lines for fuel for the island’s 3.4 million people. (Reporting by Bryan Sims; Writing by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Sandra Maler and James Dalgleish)