Wednesday, 13 November, 2019

Venezuela's PDVSA orders prepayment for U.S.-bound oil cargoes

US Warns Venezuela of 'Significant Response' Venezuela's Guaido expresses concern over Greek position | News
Russell Knight | 29 January, 2019, 21:38

"I have given specific instructions to the head of PDVSA to launch political and legal action, in USA and global courts, to defend the property and assets of Citgo", PDVSA's US-based subsidiary, Maduro said on state television.

He said more than 850 people were detained between January 21 and 26, including 77 children, some as young as 12.

The UN human rights office said security forces in Venezuela had detained almost 700 people in one day last week amid anti-government protests - the highest such tally in a single day in the country in at least 20 years.

In an effort to mitigate impact of the designation, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also attended the White House briefing, told reporters that oil supplies were sufficient to guarantee only "very modest" effect on U.S. gas prices in the short term.

Venezuela has two months to pay Russian $100 million and there is uncertainty as to whether PDVSA can service its debt to Russia's state energy giant Rosneft, Radio Free Europe reported.

The action would bolster Guaido, he said, while accusing Maduro's regime of "human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-Maduro protests, arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-Maduro protesters, curtailment of press freedom, harassment of political opponents, and continued attempts to undermine" Guaido's government-in-waiting.

Refining firm Phillips 66, another buyer of Venezuelan oil until a year ago, said it expected to be able to obtain alternative crude grades and "mitigate any disruption in crude supply for our operations".

PDVSA is Opec nation Venezuela's largest source of revenue and owns U.S. refining arm Citgo Petroleum, Venezuela's most important foreign asset.

"There will probably be problems. It is hard, impossible to give a different assessment", he said.

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The certification, given on Friday, applies to certain property held in accounts belonging to the Venezuelan government or its central bank.

"As we've said in the past, the objective of sanctions is to change behavior", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, adding that when there are "rightful leaders" in Venezuela "then indeed that money will be available to Guaido".

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, said that Americans shouldn't travel to Venezuela, warning of unrest, the threat of being arbitrarily arrested and of mass demonstrations occurring with little notice.

"If the people in Venezuela want to continue to sell us oil, as long as that money goes into blocked accounts, we'll continue to take it".

The White House announced Monday further sanctions against PDVSA, amid growing hostilities against Caracas authorities and President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido, the current leader of the opposition-led National Assembly - which Maduro does not recognize - said Monday that he would take control of Venezuela's foreign assets to keep Maduro from commandeering them in an eventual full exit from power.

Storchak said the next twice-yearly interest-only payment from Venezuela of over $100 million was due at the end of March.

China believes that Venezuela's affairs must and can only be decided by the its own people, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday.

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