Saturday, August 12, 2017

U.S. - Venezuela - Russia - Oil


reuters |  Venezuela’s unraveling socialist government is increasingly turning to ally Russia for the cash and credit it needs to survive – and offering prized state-owned oil assets in return, sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters. 

As Caracas struggles to contain an economic meltdown and violent street protests, Moscow is using its position as Venezuela’s lender of last resort to gain more control over the OPEC nation’s crude reserves, the largest in the world. 

Venezuela's state-owned oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has been secretly negotiating since at least early this year with Russia's biggest state-owned oil company, Rosneft (ROSN.MM) - offering ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela's most productive petroleum projects, according to a top Venezuelan government official and two industry sources familiar with the talks. 

Moscow has substantial leverage in the negotiations: Cash from Russia and Rosneft has been crucial in helping the financially strapped government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro avoid a sovereign debt default or a political coup. 

Rosneft delivered Venezuela’s state-owned firm more than $1 billion in April alone in exchange for a promise of oil shipments later. On at least two occasions, the Venezuelan government has used Russian cash to avoid imminent defaults on payments to bondholders, a high-level PDVSA official told Reuters. 

Rosneft has also positioned itself as a middleman in sales of Venezuelan oil to customers worldwide. Much of it ends up at refineries in the United States – despite U.S. sanctions against Russia – because it is sold through intermediaries such as oil trading firms, according to internal PDVSA trade reports seen by Reuters and a source at the firm. 

PDVSA and the government of Venezuela did not respond to requests for comment.
The Russian government declined to comment and referred questions to the foreign ministry and the ministries of finance and defense, which did not respond to questions from Reuters. Rosneft declined to comment.