HAVANA, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cuba's state oil company, CUPET, has taken full ownership and operations of the Camilo Cienfuegos oil refinery in central Cuba formerly managed in a joint venture with Venezuela, Cuban state media announced on Friday.
According to a report published by the Cuban News Agency (ACN), Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA pulled out of the partnership after ten years of joint management with CUPET of the plant located in Cienfuegos, around 250 kilometers south of Havana.
The refinery was reactivated in December 2007 by late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez and current Cuban president, Raul Castro, as a sign of the close political and economic cooperation between the two countries.
"This anniversary is commemorated in a new period as the cooperation with Venezuelan company, PDVSA has come to an end and the refinery is now a 100 percent Cuban company only managed by CUPET," said Hemenegildo Montalvo, general director of the plant.
Montalvo said the refinery has processed more than 150 million barrels of oil in the last decade, although this year due to a substantial decrease in shipments from Venezuela the plant only processed 8 million barrels.
The Cienfuegos refinery was first built in collaboration with former Soviet Union, configured to handle Russian crude. It was later upgraded by PDVSA to process up to 65,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan oil into refined products for Cuba's domestic market and exports.
"During the last ten years we've worked at operational levels for which the plant was designed after its reactivation along with stability and always surpassing our production plans," said the official.
Due to a lack of light and medium oil, PDVSA was forced this year to send heavier crudes to the island which make it harder for the refinery to process, although it has been done successfully, said the plant's general director.
Venezuela's tough economic crisis has severely impacted the island which used to receive up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day from Caracas, but that amount has decreased substantially and has led Havana to take energy austerity measures in state institutions.
A sharp drop in oil shipments in the last year has also forced Havana to look elsewhere for crude and is currently in negotiations with companies from Russia and Algeria.
Havana received a major oil shipment from Russia in May of this year in cooperation with Rosneft, who's also seeking to expand its business in the island, particularly with the production expansion of this plant.
Cuba currently produces around 50 percent of its oil and the rest has to be imported from other nations.