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By Marianna Parraga
(Reuters) -A 650,000-barrel-cargo of Venezuela's oil chartered by Italy's Eni is about to set sail carrying the first export of crude from the U.S.-sanctioned country to Europe in two years, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Friday.
The U.S. State Department sent letters to Eni and Spain's Repsol in May authorizing them to resume taking Venezuelan crude as a way to settle billions of dollars of unpaid debt and dividends owed by the OPEC-member nation.
A second tanker chartered by Eni, the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Pantanassa, is currently navigating towards Venezuela and expected to load 2 million barrels of the same grade, diluted crude oil (DCO), and take it to Europe, according to the Eikon data and a shipping document seen by Reuters.
That cargo is expected to be delivered by Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA later this month with an option for Eni to sell a portion of the crude to Spain's Repsol for its Cartagena and Bilbao refineries, according to the document and sources.
The Malta-flagged Pantanassa is scheduled to load via ship-to-ship transfer near Venezuela's Amuay port, the document added.
Eni, Repsol and PDVSA did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Venezuela's May oil exports plummeted to the lowest level in 19 months over contract changes enforced by PDVSA to switch most spot sales to prepayment, reducing the risk of unpaid cargoes. The change did not affect customers under swap deals of debt payment agreements.
European, Asian and U.S. companies operating joint ventures with PDVSA in Venezuela, including Eni, Repsol, Chevron, ONGC Ltd, and Maurel & Prom, have accumulated billions of dollars in pending debt since the government of then U.S. President Donald Trump suspended oil swaps used for exchanging Venezuelan oil for fuel and debt payments.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Gary McWilliams)