The discreet dance of two Cuban oil tankers between Mexico and the Island

The discreet dance of two Cuban oil tankers between Mexico and the Island
The discreet dance of two Cuban oil tankers between Mexico and the Island

Havana/While the Vilma arrived at the port of Cienfuegos on Saturday to deliver its cargo of some 400,000 barrels of Mexican crude oil to the largest refinery in Cuba, the Delsa entered the Pajaritos dock (Veracruz) to look for another equivalent amount. The two Cuban oil tankers discreetly go back and forth between the Island and the Pemex (Mexican Petroleum) facilities, where they load the fuel that Havana urgently needs to face an energy crisis aggravated by the high consumption of air conditioning units in summer. .

The delivery conditions of these large quantities of crude oil are also secret – it is estimated that Mexico has sent some 8,000,000 barrels since 2023, with an approximate value of 578 million dollars – and it is not known if they are purchases or donations, although Most likely, it is a barter in exchange for sending health personnel from Havana, which is also due to mysterious circumstances.

To ensure the discretion of their ships’ movements and avoid their geolocation, the crews turn off the transponders. It is a common practice among countries under international sanctions, such as Venezuela or Iran. Furthermore, in the case of Cuba, it is about maintaining the secret of its oil supply and the level of its reserves, which the regime considers a matter of national security.

The crude oil brought from Mexico and other countries is taken to the Cienfuegos refinery where it is processed.

The crude oil is usually taken to the Cienfuegos refinery where, under strong surveillance, it is processed and then sent to the warehouses in Matanzas where it is stored as a “state reserve,” as one of the facility’s custodians explained to 14ymedio last year. .

For University of Texas researcher Jorge Piñón, it is an elaborate plan to guarantee fuel supply on the Island. In statements made to 14 and a half, considers the hypothesis that Cuba is “storing strategic oil reserves.” According to the expert, Havana is preparing to face a possible “supply failure” by its main crude oil suppliers, the most important being Venezuela, followed by Mexico and Russia.

Russia also sent last week – as part of a fleet that includes a nuclear submarine and a frigate – the tanker Pashinwith a capacity for 9,000 tons of oil (about 160,000 barrels), although, according to the information reported by FlconEYES in X, the hydrocarbon it transports is used to refuel military ships during the voyage.

However, Piñón recalls that Cuba has limited supply capabilities after the fire that destroyed much of the Matanzas Supertanker Base in August 2022. “They lost a million barrels of storage in Matanzas, so they have to be using the majority of its fleet as floating storage,” he speculates.

The obsolete thermoelectric plants run on national crude oil, but their recurring failures force them to rely increasingly on generators, which run on imported oil. The director of the Cuban Electrical Union, Arles Luna Leiva, assured the newspaper Granmathat this Monday distributed generation will contribute 845 megawatts (MW) during the summer in order to contain the prolonged blackouts “mainly for nighttime hours” in July and August.

“However, the availability of resources for the summer decreased compared to previous years, as illustrated by the 163 diesel machines (which are already out of date) in their maintenance cycles,” said Luna Leiva. The main interventions necessary consist of changing the oil filters, the diesel generators, the panel and the calibration of the engines, she detailed. Meanwhile, the fuel oil ones receive the main interventions in the injection systems and combustion chambers.

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