Venezuela shifts oil ventures' accounts to Russian bank -document, sources

Frederick Owens
February 11, 2019

Caracas, which buys medicines and other products from India, is looking for alternative payment methods to keep oil flowing to what is now its first destination for crude exports after its USA customers froze purchases due to sanctions.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, aimed at severely curbing the OPEC member's crude exports to the United States to pressure socialist President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

Venezuela's oil production has dwindled in the last two decades, from more than 3 million barrels per day (bpd) at the beginning of the century to between 1.2 million and 1.4 million bpd by late 2018.

Venezuela has been in political turmoil in the past weeks, with the opposition blaming the country's President Maduro over an ailing economy, hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of basic items, urging him to resign.

Venezuela will need to make a lot more such sales to sustain its oil industry.

This includes the Montevideo Mechanism - an worldwide contact group formed in the Uruguayan capital on February 7 by 13 "neutral" countries in Europe and Latin America for the objective of resolving the Venezuelan crisis.

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The joint venture partners include Norway's Equinor ASA EQNR.OL , U.S. -based Chevron Corp CVX.N and France's Total SA TOTF.PA .

Barter deals could help India balance its trade with Venezuela.

The minister said Venezuela's oil output was now 1.57 million bpd, about half its level at the start of the century.

The opposition leader launched a bid to oust Maduro last month, declaring himself interim president, a move recognised by the United States and around 50 other countries, including 20 from the European Union. The U.S. sanctions have sliced its oil exports to a 10-month low.

The sanctions gave US oil companies working in Venezuela, including Chevron and oil service firms Halliburton Co HAL.N , General Electric Co's Baker Hughes BHGE.N and Schlumberger NV SLB.N , a deadline to halt all operations in the South American country. "Now they want to steal Citgo Petroleum from Venezuela", he said.

"We have strategic association with several companies around the world", he said, adding that one of those was USA energy company Chevron Corp.

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