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Rosneft out of Venezuela due to oil price crash - Elliott Abrams

Brendan Smialowski/AFP

"Rosneft is now losing money, its joint ventures can't sell crude oil for a profit" Elliott Abrams, the US State Department's special representative for Venezuela, told reporters during a briefing.

- Venezuela oil output has fallen to 500,000 b/d: US State Department
- Pompeo said sanctions not motivated by oil price collapse

By Platts

Petroleumworld 04 01 2020

Russian state oil company Rosneft's decision to cease operations in Venezuela and sell its assets there to a Russian government-owned company was a "maneuver" made in reaction to collapsing oil prices, a US State Department official said Tuesday.

"Rosneft is now losing money, its joint ventures can't sell crude oil for a profit, its trading activities around the world, trying to sell Venezuela oil, are really in trouble," Elliott Abrams, the US State Department's special representative for Venezuela, told reporters during a briefing.

Abrams said that the US government was still trying to learn more about the sale, such as how the new company would be structured and whether it would control all of Rosneft's assets in Venezuela.

The sale, which Rosneft announced Saturday, follows the imposition of US sanctions on two Rosneft trading subsidiaries, Rosneft Trading and TNK Trading, over their activities in Venezuela earlier this year.

Abrams said State estimates that the decline in oil prices has caused Venezuelan oil output to fall to 500,000 b/d.

Venezuelan oil output averaged 820,000 b/d in February, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey.

"I think it's very clear that the amount of money going to [Venezuela's Maduro] regime is in very steep decline," Abrams said. "They're not getting the cost of production so you can see the impact is enormous."

Earlier in the briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied that the Trump administration saw low oil prices as an opportunity to ratchet up oil sanctions, something analysts have said the administration is doing.

"Oil prices will go up, they'll go down, our mission set remains unchanged," Pompeo said.

On Tuesday, the State Department unveiled a proposal which would lift all sanctions on Venezuela, including US sanctions on petroleum exports, if it establishes a new, transitional government and holds internationally-sanctioned presidential elections within a year.

Story from Platts S&PGlobal 03 31 2020



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