Oil imports: Opportunity for India as sanctions-hit Venezuela seeks to double exports

  • Feb 12, 2019
  • The Financial Express

Venezuela wants to double its oil sales to India and is open to barter payment arrangements with the world’s third biggest crude consumer, Venezuelan oil minister Manuel Quevedo said on Monday. Caracas, which buys medicines and other products from India, is looking for alternative payment methods after the United States imposed stringent sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA in a bid to push out President Nicolas Maduro.

“The relationships with India will continue, the trade will continue,” Quevedo said, adding that Venezuela wanted to expand trade in services and technology with New Delhi. The minister, who said Caracas was open to barter arrangements but did not give details, told reporters during a conference that Venezuela aimed to double oil supplies to India from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) now.

“India also wants to increase the intake,” Quevedo said after a meeting with Indian refiners. Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy, part-owned by Russia’s Rosneft, both buy Venezuelan oil. Barter deals could help India balance its trade with Venezuela. In fiscal 2017-18, India’s imports from Venezuela were worth $5.87 billion while its exports were $79.3 million, Indian trade ministry data showed.

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The minister said Venezuela’s oil output was now 1.57 million bpd, about half its level at the start of the century. Quevedo, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said it was important to listen to oil consuming nations as Opec and other producers sought to balance supply and demand in the oil market.

The minister said US sanctions meant Venezuela had lost $20 billion in revenues. He did not give a timeframe. Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, who has been recognised by the United States and some of its allies, is setting up bank accounts with US help to take income accrued by PDVSA’s US refining subsidiary Citgo Petroleum.

In response, PDVSA is taking steps to remove at least two American executives from Citgo’s board of directors, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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