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US May Have Scored An ‘Own Goal’ In Venezuela Oil Sanctions

31 January 2019

The latest US sanctions announced on Monday - bar state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (also known as PDVSA) from collecting proceeds from crude sales to USA refineries - appeared to be aimed at pressuring President Nicolas Maduro to step down and allow opposition leader Juan Guaido to call elections.

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The sanctions will block PDVSA from accessing $7 billion worth of assets in the USA and cut Venezuela's oil exports by $11 billion over the next year, national security adviser John Bolton said at a Monday press briefing.

The unusual arrival of a Russian passenger plane in Caracas has set social media abuzz with rumors about its mission after the Kremlin pledged to support its ally Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro against a US -backed effort to drive him from office.

"We are requesting the TSJ the application of the following precautionary measures prohibiting departure from the country, of selling and mortgaging real and personal property and freezing bank accounts", the attorney general said.

The US has emerged as Guaido's most powerful ally, announcing on Tuesday that it was giving him control of Venezuela's US bank accounts.

The US slapped oil sanctions on Maduro's regime earlier this week in an attempt to starve the government of its funding.

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The US imposed sanctions against PDVSA this week as it seeks the ouster of already sanctioned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom the US has accused of being a dictator.

"You've got to wait years before you see a game-changing increase out of Venezuela", Jeff Currie, Goldman's head of commodity research, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

"Hands off Venezuela", Maduro said forcefully in a direct message to Trump.

Oil prices were stable on Tuesday, pressured by a cloudy outlook for the global economy but supported by worries over disruptions to supply from United States sanctions on Venezuelan exports.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido gestures as he attends a session of the Venezuela's National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela January 29, 2019.

File image of Opposition leader Juan Guaido.

It's unclear how much Venezuelan oil will be diverted because, under the sanctions, US refiners will still be able to buy oil from PDVSA but the proceeds from the transactions will be set aside for the use of a new government in Venezuela.

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Russian Federation has been one of Maduro's staunchest supporters, providing it with loans and weapons.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Guaido's designated envoy to the United States on Tuesday.

The sanctions, aim to freeze sale proceeds from PDVSA's exports of roughly 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to the United States.

He did not outline any specific steps in support of Maduro's government.

A senior official said on Tuesday that Moscow is expecting "problems" ahead of an upcoming payment on Russia's 3 billion dollar (£2.3 billion) loan.

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US May Have Scored An ‘Own Goal’ In Venezuela Oil Sanctions