Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA is telling customers of its joint ventures to deposit oil sales proceeds in an account recently opened at Russia's Gazprombank AO, according to sources and an internal document, reported Reuters on Saturday.
PDVSA's move comes after the United States imposed tough, new financial sanctions on Jan. 28 aimed at blocking Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's access to the country's oil revenue.
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido said recently that a fund would be established to accept proceeds from sales of Venezuelan oil.
The United States and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaido as the nation's legitimate head of state. Maduro has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet seeking to foment a coup.
PDVSA also has begun pressing its foreign partners holding stakes in joint ventures in its key Orinoco Belt producing area to formally decide whether they will continue with the projects, added Reuters. The joint venture partners include Norway's Equinor ASA, U.S.-based Chevron Corp and France's Total SA.
“We would like to make formal your knowledge of new banking instructions to make payments in U.S. dollars or Euros,” wrote PDVSA's finance vice president, Fernando De Quintal, in a letter dated Feb. 8 to the PDVSA unit that supervises its joint ventures.
Even after a first round of financial sanctions in 2017, PDVSA's joint ventures managed to maintain bank accounts in the United States and Europe to receive proceeds from oil sales. They also used correspondent banks in the United States and Europe to shift money to PDVSA's accounts in China.
State-run PDVSA several weeks ago informed customers of the new banking
The sanctions gave U.S. oil companies working in Venezuela, including Chevron and oil service firms Halliburton Co, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes and Schlumberger NV, a deadline to halt all operations in the Caribbean country.
The European Union has encouraged member countries to recognize a new temporary government led by Guaido until new elections can be held. Europe also has said it could impose financial sanctions to bar Maduro from having access to oil revenue coming from the region.