HOUSTON, July 7 (Reuters) - Venezuelan crude oil sales to the United States fell 14 percent in June compared with the previous month amid lower purchases of diluents by state-run PDVSA to formulate exportable blends, according to trade sources and Thomson Reuters Trade Flows data on Thursday.
Venezuela's PDVSA has been importing oil and naphtha in recent years to dilute its extra heavy oil output and create crude blends that can be sent to its customers in the United States and other countries.
But payment problems have caused delays to discharge tankers carrying imported crude and products in recent months, which adds to Venezuela's declining crude production.
PDVSA sent 652,730 barrels per day (bpd) of crude to the United States last month in 39 cargoes, according to the data. U.S. refiner Phillips 66 was the largest receiver, followed by PDVSA's refining arm Citgo Petroleum.
Shipments arriving in June were also 4 percent lower than in the same month in 2015.
Cargoes of Merey heavy blend increased, but deliveries of dilute crude oil (DCO) made with heavy crude and naphtha fell to its lowest level since April 2015. Exports of some crudes produced at the Orinoco belt also showed a sharp decline.
Venezuela's crude output fell by 120,300 bpd to 2.37 million bpd in May, according to figures reported by the South American country to OPEC. Exports have declined in consequence and also due to PDVSA's cash problems affecting payments to suppliers.
In June, PDVSA delivered more crude to occasional buyers including Lukoil Panamericas and Axeon Specialty Products, according to the data, made with preliminary figures.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga)
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