Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA has begun marketing about 570,000 barrels of Corocoro medium crude recently offloaded from a floating facility that was listing last year, two sources with knowledge of the offer said on Friday.
Crude onboard the Floating Storage and Offloading facility (FSO) Nabarima, operated by a joint venture between PDVSA and Italy's Eni, started to be transferred to a tanker late last year amid environmental concerns from neighboring countries over a potential spill.
About 1.3 million barrels of oil had remained stored at the FSO since early 2019, when sanctions imposed by the United States on PDVSA deprived the joint venture of its main customer for that crude grade, Houston-based refiner Citgo Petroleum.
PDVSA-owned tanker Icaro, which received the first parcel of the offloaded crude, earlier this week set sail almost fully loaded to the Amuay ship-to-ship hub off Venezuela's western coast, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data.
The sources said PDVSA plans to sell the first parcel of 570,000 barrels to a customer that has not yet been determined.
If it cannot allocate the oil for exports in the coming days, it would transfer it to a larger vessel, the Suezmax Rio Caroni, where it would remain until sold or transferred to one of PDVSA's refineries, the sources said.
PDVSA did not respond to requests for comment. Eni said that Nabarima's crude is owned by PDVSA. "Eni is not involved in decisions pertaining to its commercialization," the company said in a statement.
PDVSA has previously dismissed concerns by environmental groups and the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil that the facility could be prone to a spill.
PDVSA's oil exports have soared again this month as a growing group of customers with no experience in oil trade have been able to find vessels to carry exports, mainly to Asia.
The shipments are poised to increase if the U.S. government authorizes a handful of PDVSA's established customers to resume trading with PDVSA, after ordering a halt to oil swaps in the last quarter of 2020.
It is not yet clear if the Icaro will return to the Paria Gulf close to Trinidad to receive a new batch of the crude currently onboard the Nabarima.
Some interested buyers of that crude grade have expressed concerns about the quality of the oil after it spent so much time in a floating facility that experts have said shows evidence of corrosion, one of the sources added.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela and Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Grant McCool)