Venezuelan gov't admits it imports light oil to dilute heavy crude

Caracas, Oct 20 (EFE).- Venezuela imports light crude to dilute heavy crude from the Orinoco Belt that "cannot be produced or transported without first being mixed with a hydrocarbon of lower density," state-owned oil giant PDVSA said Monday.

The use of light crude is being confirmed to address "biased information against the petroleum industry from self-described petroleum experts who manipulate it," PDVSA said.

The "timely acquisition" of light crude abroad was agreed to with France's Total and Norway's Statoil, who are PDVSA's partners in Petrocedeño, a joint venture that produces and improves the quality of oil at one of the wells in the Orinoco Belt, the state-owned oil company said in a statement.

"The sustained increase in production, combined with a planned halt to maintenance at Mejorador Petrocedeño, led the joint venture's management, made up of PDVSA as majority partner, as well as France's Total and Norway's Statoil, to make this decision," PDVSA said.

The idea behind mixing heavy crude with light oil is to achieve "a more profitable" blend, the company said.

"PDVSA calls on the Venezuelan people to not let themselves be confused by news stories from those who control the media as part of an economic war to affect the revolutionary government's management and especially the oil industry, because it is the nation's main source of income," the state-owned oil company said.

The statement did not mention two-time opposition presidential candidate and Miranda Gov. Enrique Capriles, who in his Sunday column labeled the purchase of light crude abroad "unbelievable."

"Such has been the destruction of our Venezuela that the first ships carrying imported crude ... left Algeria and Russia. UNBELIEVABLE! Yes, just like you are reading it. With the planet's biggest reserves, the government had to import petroleum because our petroleum industry also did not escape the destruction of this disastrous administration," Capriles said.

The Orinoco Belt, located in east-central Venezuela, is believed to hold the world's largest petroleum reserves, with most of the oil heavy and extra-heavy crude that is more expensive to refine because it requires additional processing.