MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA has suspended deliveries of petroleum coke to a company owned by a Venezuelan shipping magnate amid a commercial dispute over a sales contract, said Reuters.
PDVSA earlier this year started a review of accounts with Geneva-registered firm Maroil Trading, owned by tycoon Wilmer Ruperti, as part of a vast audit of PDVSA's accounts receivables. Maroil at the time owed the state company USD423.7 MM from petroleum coke sales made since January 2020, according to PDVSA's review, seen by Reuters. Maroil disputed the bill.
PDVSA did not reply to a request for comment. A law firm representing Maroil did not provide immediate comment. According to a 2017 contract, Maroil had to invest at least USD138 MM in infrastructure repairs in exchange for rights to sell some 12 million metric tons of petroleum coke produced by PDVSA, then valued at USD11.50 per ton.
The contract turned Maroil into the entity responsible for most of the country's exports of the oil byproduct that is burned as an alternative to coal. In a interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday, Ruperti said the contract, set to expire in 2021, was extended by two years due to the pandemic, which PDVSA now disputes. He denied wrongdoing and added that he is still owed USD300 MM.
It was unclear if the contract had been terminated or suspended until further decision is made. In April, PDVSA began registering new customers of petcoke, according to documents and people close to the matter, expanding a customer roster amid the audit of unpaid bills from various PDVSA clients and middlemen.
Venezuela's exports of petcoke plummeted to less than 100,000 metric tons in June, from a peak of 626,000 tons in January, according to shipping data.
We remind, PDVSA has allocated an oil cargo to a unit of Eni for a February loading, the first to the Italian firm following a contract suspension this year by new management at the state-run company, people familiar with the matter said. Eni and Spanish oil firm Repsol in May last year received authorizations from the U.S. State Department to take the crude to Europe for outstanding Venezuela debt and dividends, an exception to U.S. oil sanctions on Venezuela.