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Venezuela earmarks a third oil cargo to Chevron under U.S. license

(Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has assigned a third crude cargo to Chevron Corp under a U.S. authorization that restarted exports to the United States after a nearly four-year pause, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Chevron received a U.S. license in November allowing it to revive its oil output and expand operations in Venezuela, part of Washington's effort to encourage talks towards elections in the OPEC country, which has been under U.S. oil sanctions since 2019.

The third cargo represents a solid start to an agreement expected to last at least six months. U.S. Gulf Coast refiners prize Venezuela's heavy crude but have been barred from purchasing it under U.S. sanctions in recent years.

The first Chevron-chartered tanker carrying Venezuelan oil departed on Tuesday and is set to deliver the crude next week to its Pascagoula, Mississippi, refinery. The second and third tankers also are expected to deliver their cargoes this month.

Chevron separately made its first delivery of imported heavy naphtha to its Petropiar joint venture this week at PDVSA's Jose terminal. A second cargo of about 450,000 barrels of the fuel is expected to depart from a U.S. port in the coming days, the people added.

Chevron so far has taken 500,000 barrels of Hamaca heavy crude from its Petropiar oil project. That cargo is sailing to the United States on tanker Sealeo after a ship-to-ship transfer off Aruba. Another cargo of some 240,000 barrels of Boscan heavy crude is onboard the tanker Kerala after loading at Venezuela's Bajo Grande terminal and passing Maracaibo Lake's channel.

The third cargo will be carried by Chevron-operated vessel Carina Voyager, one of the people said. The ship arrived in the Caribbean Sea last week and has been awaiting a loading window at the Jose port, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Chevron this week confirmed shipping activities under the U.S. license began this month. The company said is focused on "operating safely and reliably" at its affiliated joint ventures. PDVSA did not reply to requests for comment.

Chevron is relying on to ship-to-ship (STS) transfers to consolidate cargoes from its joint ventures in Venezuela before they sail to the United States amid infrastructure limitations that hit the South American country's exports last year.

The transfers near Aruba and at Venezuela's Caquetios area aim to overcome problems from power outages to equipment malfunctioning and a silt-clogged navigation channel, which often delay shipments.

(Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Mircely Guanipa in Maracay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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