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  • A vintage car with tourists in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 2, 2019.

    A vintage car with tourists in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 2, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 October 2019

Venezuela has sent about 3.83 million barrels of crude oil and fuel to alleviate energy shortages in Cuba.

During the first week of October, a fleet of oil tankers from Venezuela arrived in Cuba to help President Miguel Diaz-Canel to alleviate fuel shortages generated by the U.S. economic and financial blockade.

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Over the last few months, in order to cope with energy scarcity, Cuba quickly deepened austerity measures, such as the reduction of public transport services, decreases in production in some factories and increases in the use of animal-powered vehicles and wood-fired ovens.

Since late September, Venezuela has sent at least eight tankers to Cuba carrying about 3.83 million barrels of crude oil and fuel, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon and PDVSA.

As a result, Venezuelan crude oil exports to Havana increased by almost 143,000 barrels per day, which has allowed that there are no longer long lines at gas stations, although diesel is still scarce.

The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's recent visit also sent a signal the island is not alone. On Friday, he traveled to the first Cuban horizontal oil well, an infrastructure which is being built by Zarubezhneft and Cubapetroleo oil companies.

Moscow and Havana are working to reduce Cuba's dependence on crude oil imports by improving the exploration of oil wells.

Currently, domestic oil production meets about 40 percent of the Island's needs. The 60 percent of the Cuban energy demand is usually met with imported fuels, which arrive from Russia, Venezuela, Algeria and other allied countries.

Despite growing international cooperation, Cuba will continue to experience difficulties due to U.S. arbitrary economic and financial blockade.

"The situation is becoming increasingly difficult," Francisco Monaldi, a researcher at the Baker Institute at Rice University, said and explained that many oil companies avoid doing business with Venezuela or Cuba for fear of U.S. sanctions.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Regarding how the Cubans manage to live with restrictions on energy consumption, Niuris Higueras, owner of the Atelier restaurant in Havana confirmed that the authorities asked private business owners to reduce their consumption of electricity in half.

"Most of the time I have stopped using air conditioning and electric oven," Higueras said and commented that "customers like to use terraces anyway."​​​​​​​

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