Venezuela has resumed direct shipments of oil to China after U.S. sanctions sent the trade underground for more than a year, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel-tracking data and internal documents from state company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Chinese state companies China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and PetroChina – long among PDVSA’s top customers – stopped loading crude and fuel at Venezuelan ports in August 2019 after Washington extended its sanctions on PDVSA to include any companies trading with the Venezuelan state firm.
The imposition of the sanctions was part of a push by the Trump administration to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, but they failed to completely halt the South American nation’s oil exports or to loosen Maduro’s grip on power.
PDVSA’s customers instead boosted shipments to Malaysia, where transfers of cargoes between vessels at sea have allowed most of Venezuela’s crude to continue flowing to China after changing hands and using trade intermediaries.
PDVSA, CNPC, PetroChina and Venezuela’s oil ministry did not reply to requests for comment.