With the US having halted imports of crude from Venezuela since May and China having followed suit from October (MEES, 7 February), India is now the last man standing of what had been the beleaguered South American Opec member’s triumvirate of key buyers (MEES, 29 November). For 2019 as a whole India took 305,000 b/d from Venezuela, down 8.9% and an 8-year low (MEES, 7 February & data, MEES, 7 February). But December saw imports of 515,000 b/d, the highest monthly figure since June 2016.

The bulk of 2019 volumes have been supplied by Russia’s Rosneft, whose growing upstream presence in Venezuela has been key to a modest output rebound in recent months (MEES, 7 February). December arrivals were also boosted by key Indian refiner Reliance’s resumption of direct purchases from Venezuelan state firm PdV after a four-month halt. Reliance alone imported 476,000 b/d from Venezuela in December, a five-year high, Reuters reports, adding that India remained Venezuela’s key customer for January-loading cargoes, taking 38.5% of the total. (CONTINUED - 356 WORDS)