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Venezuela Needs the United States, Too

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2008 | 11:38 AM ET

Venezuela needs U.S. refineries as much as we need the oil.The bulk of Venezuelan oil into Exxon's U.S. operations goes into its joint venture in Louisiana.

Venezuela supplied about 78,000 bpd into the Chalmette refinery in Louisiana last year, according to energy analyst Andy Lipow in Houston.

Chalmette is a joint venture between ExxonMobil and PDVSA. This oil comes from the heavy crude Cerro Negro project in Venezuela. It's one of the heaviest crudes out there and difficult for other refiners to process.

Exxon also imports Venezuelan crude into Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Baytown, TX and Baton Rouge, LA and imported about 50,000 bpd in total to those Gulf coast refineries from Venezuela last year, Lipow says.

And don't expect the Chinese to grab Venezuelan oil, Lipow says. China has experienced product shortages recently, most notably diesel.

But Lipow says getting this Venezuelan oil to China won't really help that situation because the Chinese refineries aren't equipped to upgrade this high sulfur oil into transportation fuels.

By the way, Venezuela also buys gasoline blendstocks from the U.S. because their refinery operations are so poor. So they need us too.

Questions? Comments? energysource@cnbc.com

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