The United States is not ruling out imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil giant Rosneft over its involvement in trading oil from Venezuela, Sputnik quoted the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, as saying on Tuesday.
Asked whether Rosneft could be slapped with sanctions because it has been buying increased amounts of Venezuelan oil and reselling it, Abrams said, as carried by Sputnik:
“Yes, it can be [sanctioned]. We have not gotten to that point yet.”
“At some point, we will have to consider the question of Rosneft’s conduct and what kind of reaction we want to have to it,” the U.S. envoy for Venezuela added.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed in early August an executive order freezing all assets of the Venezuelan government in the United States. The move may lead to the U.S. imposing secondary sanctions against companies doing business with the Maduro government—companies such as Rosneft.
According to trading sources and ship tracking data, Rosneft has already become the largest buyer of oil from Venezuela. The Russian oil giant was the top buyer and trader of Venezuelan crude in July and the first half of August, Reuters reported last month.
Rosneft has been reselling the oil from the Latin American country to buyers in China and India and thus helping buyers hesitant to approach Venezuela and its state oil firm PDVSA because of the U.S. sanctions on Caracas, and, at the same time, helping Venezuela to continue selling its oil despite stricter U.S. sanctions.
Last month, people with knowledge of shipping arrangements told the Financial Times that Rosneft had remained the last gasoline supplier to Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, extending a lifeline to the Socialist leader whom Russia supports.
According to documents seen by FT, Rosneft’s trading arm Rosneft Trading shipped all the gasoline that Venezuela imported in June—eight cargoes totaling 1.7 million barrels via ship-to-ship transfers offshore Malta, Gibraltar, and Aruba.