The US will sanction 34 vessels owned or operated by PDVSA and two companies that move Venezuelan crude to Cuba, Vice President Mike Pence said.
“Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people,” Pence said in a speech at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.
The sanctions target two companies, Ballito Bay Shipping and ProPer In Management, which delivered Venezuelan oil to Cuba in February and March on the crude tanker Despina Andrianna. The US also sanctioned 34 vessels that PDVSA has an interest in.
The sanctions are the latest punitive actions by the Trump administration, as it aims to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power. The US recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
The US Department of the “Treasury is taking action against vessels and entities transporting oil, providing a lifeline to keep the illegitimate Maduro regime afloat,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Cuba continues to profit from, and prop up, the illegitimate Maduro regime through oil-for-repression schemes as they attempt to keep Maduro in power.”
US sanctions unveiled in January have created a de facto ban on US imports of Venezuelan crude and a prohibition on US dollar transactions with PDVSA will be imposed on April 28. No Venezuelan oil was imported by the US last week, the third week in a row of zero imports from the South American nation, the US Energy Information Administration reported this week.
The Trump administration is considering secondary sanctions on purchases of Venezuelan crude, but has also been warning governments of other nations, companies and oil traders that transactions with PDVSA could run afoul of US sanctions.
“There is selling, there is re-selling, there are oil traders involved in this and we have pretty decent information about this so we try to follow up and say ‘don’t do that,’” Elliott Abrams, the US State Department’s special representative for Venezuela, said last week. “We’re seeing efforts and we’re trying to shut them off.”
Venezuela oil output averaged 740,000 b/d in March, the lowest monthly rate in 16 years, according to an S&P Global Platts survey released Friday.
If secondary sanctions are imposed, Venezuela’s oil output could fall to 500,000 b/d by the final quarter of 2019, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News.