​Venezuela: Sanctions bite, oil exports fall

Venezuela’s oil exports fell in August to their lowest level in 2019, internal reports and Refinitiv Eikon data showed, hurt by a halt in purchases by the nation’s second largest customer, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), following tougher U.S. sanctions, Reuters reports.

Overall exports of crude and refined products by state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its joint ventures declined last month to some 770,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 992,565 bpd in July and 1.13 million bpd in June, according to revised data. 

Last month, China’s state-run CNPC cancelled loadings of Venezuelan crude it had scheduled for August, after Washington issued an executive order that froze Venezuelan government property on U.S. soil and warned foreign companies they also could face sanctions for doing business with PDVSA. 

PDVSA is responsible for delivering oil to Chinese firms to repay billions of dollars loaned to Venezuela. The United States has been ratcheting up efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro, whose 2018 re-election is deemed illegitimate by most western nations. 

The drop comes even as a number of shipments are moving on tankers that are not turning on their signalling transponders while approaching or leaving Venezuelan waters, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data. This has made it difficult to fully measure exports and confirm their delivery destination. 

Since the suspension, Russia’s state-run oil company Rosneft has increased its share of Venezuelan oil, with China as primary destination. Rosneft lifted 65% of PDVSA’s total exports in August versus 49% in July, according to internal PDVSA trade reports. 

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