(Reuters) – Trading houses that resell Venezuelan crude oil have not yet found workarounds since the United States announced sanctions to cut off socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s revenue, according to shipping data and sources.
Merchants, trading partners and Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA were expecting oil swaps and so-called triangulation of sales to be the easiest ways to continue shipping, as has happened when sanctions were imposed on other nations, such as Iran and Russia.
US - Sanctions - Portion - Trading - Venezuelan
But the U.S. measures – tougher and deeper than past sanctions – have for now blocked a large portion of trading in Venezuelan oil worldwide as end-users are reluctant to take cargoes, leaving barrels stranded in the Atlantic basin, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon.
The lack of Venezuelan oil has U.S. refiners scrambling for replacements and threatens global trade that is worth $6 billion a year.
Sanctions - Trading - Firms - Trafigura - Vitol
The sanctions are affecting Europe-based trading firms including Trafigura and Vitol, which regularly offer Venezuelan oil to refiners, and PetroChina Co Ltd, which along with Russia’s Rosneft recoup money lent to Venezuela by reselling PDVSA barrels.
Almost 9 million barrels remain stuck in tankers waiting for payment or discharge instructions, according to Eikon data. Most are anchored in the U.S. Gulf Coast as self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido rushes to set up escrow accounts to receive proceeds.
Trading - Companies - Loadings - Venezuelan - Oil
Trading companies have also delayed loadings of Venezuelan oil scheduled by PDVSA for February delivery, according to sources and data, because merchants are having trouble finding buyers.
“No one who typically takes Venezuelan crude from us is lifting a single barrel,” a Trafigura trader said, referring to barrels offered on the spot market. “Buyers are not sure of the risks and how to ensure any payments are not remitted to PDVSA.”
PDVSA - Dozen - Tankers - Water - Destinations
To be sure, PDVSA has not stopped exporting. There are more than a dozen tankers in the water headed for destinations...
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