Cuba increasingly is turning to Russia and Mexico for oil to ease an acute shortage of diesel and gasoline and supplement dwindling supplies of Venezuelan crude and fuel, according to shipping data and sources.
Venezuela for more than two decades has been Cuba’s main political ally and largest provider of crude and fuel to the island nation, delivering fuel oil for power generation, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and cooking gas.
But the South American nation’s struggle to produce enough fuel for its own needs have left it unable to fully feed its Caribbean neighbor. Venezuela’s oil exports to Cuba so far this year have dropped to 55,000 barrels per day (bpd) from almost 80,000 in 2020.
Under President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico has sent a rising volume of fuel to the communist-run nation, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data.
Cuba has also imported since November at least five cargoes from Russia, a long-time supplier, as well as fuel from Caribbean terminals and Europe, the data shows.
A tanker owned by Mexican state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Bicentenario, since April has discharged twice at a Cuban refinery in Havana, among the few that produce gasoline on the island, according to the Eikon data and TankerTrackers.com.
The ship was seen as recently as Sunday departing from Havana Harbor.
A separate, independently-owned vessel, the Panama-flagged Fortunato, has also twice visited Cuban ports since January from Mexico’s Salina Cruz terminal carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), typically used for cooking, the data showed.
The fuel, though not enough to meet demand, may prove a lifeline for the crisis-plagued administration of Miguel Diaz-Canel, which has imposed rationing, prompting days-long lines for gas, diesel and propane across the Caribbean island.
Lidia Rodriguez, commercial director of Cuban state oil company Cupet, this week told local media Cuba had low stocks of diesel and gasoline, and particularly low inventories of crude that its refineries are able to process.
Mexico, which has previously shipped oil and other aid to Cuba under emergency situations, receives doctors from Cuba and recently signed a deal to import Cuban raw material for a train project.
Venezuela sent a crude cargo over the weekend to the island and plans to ship more oil and gasoline in the coming days, according to PDVSA’s schedules.