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Saturday 23 February 2019

Russian bank denies new Venezuelan oil accounts

Sanctions: An oil tanker is seen at Jose refinery cargo terminal in Venezuela. Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Sanctions: An oil tanker is seen at Jose refinery cargo terminal in Venezuela. Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Tatiana Voronova

Russia's Gazprombank said yesterday that Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA had opened accounts with the bank several years ago and has not opened any new accounts recently.

Russia's Gazprombank said yesterday that Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA had opened accounts with the bank several years ago and has not opened any new accounts recently.

Reuters reported on Saturday that PDVSA was telling customers of its joint ventures to pay for its oil into an account recently opened at Gazprombank.

"We stress that no new accounts have been opened and the bank does not plan to open any new accounts," Gazprombank said.

Reuters had cited an internal PDSVA document and sources to report that the Venezuela oil exporter was telling customers of its oil joint ventures to deposit sales proceeds into an account at Gazprombank.

PDVSA is under pressure from tough, new US financial sanctions imposed on January 28 aimed at blocking leftist President Nicolas Maduro's access to the country's oil revenue. The United States and dozens of other nations have refused to recognise Mr Maduro, characterising his election last year to another six-year term as fraudulent.

Since then, PDVSA has been pressing its foreign partners at joint ventures in its Orinoco Belt producing area to formally decide whether they will continue in the projects, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks. The joint ventures' partners include Norway's Equinor ASA, US-based Chevron Corp and France's Total SA.

PDVSA also ordered its Petrocedeno joint venture with Equinor and Total to halt extra-heavy oil output and upgrading due to a lack of naphtha needed to dilute production, as sanctions prohibited US suppliers of the fuel from exporting it to Venezuela.

"We would like to make formal your knowledge of new banking instructions to make payments in US dollars or euro," said PDVSA's finance vice president Fernando De Quintal in a letter dated February 8 to the PDVSA unit that supervises its joint ventures.

After a first round of sanctions in 2017, PDVSA's joint ventures had managed to keep bank accounts in the US and Europe to receive oil-sale proceeds before moving money to PDVSA's own collecting accounts in China.

Reuters

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