India’s refining firm Reliance Industries (NS:RELI) on Thursday said its purchases of Venezuelan crude have been reported and approved by the U.S. government after American officials warned oil firms about their activity in Venezuela a day earlier.
The United States on Wednesday said oil companies, including Reliance, Russia’s Rosneft (MM:ROSN), Spain’s Repsol (MC:REP) and U.S.-based Chevron Corp (N:CVX), need to tread cautiously in their activities in Venezuela, in an attempt to ramp up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“We are in frequent communications with U.S. government officials regarding Venezuela and continuously keep them apprised of our actions,” a Reliance representative said in an email to Reuters.
Washington imposed sanctions early last year on state-run oil firm PDVSA in an effort to oust Maduro, whose re-election in 2018 was viewed as a sham by most Western Hemisphere nations. The White House on Wednesday hosted opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom Maduro calls a “puppet” of the United States.
Wednesday’s comments from a senior U.S. administration official about possible sanctions against Rosneft and other energy companies with ties to PDVSA caught some oil executives in Venezuela by surprise.
President Donald Trump’s government imposed its first round of sanctions on PDVSA a year ago, depriving the company of its main market, the United States.
The August measures that followed targeted non-U.S. companies buying Venezuelan oil, but those “secondary sanctions” have not been enforced. As a result, Venezuela is still exporting roughly 1 million barrels of crude and fuel per day.
Repsol declined to comment. Rosneft, Chevron and PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.