The largest independent oil trader in the world, Vitol Group, is discussing the purchase of Venezuelan crude oil from a Mexican firm that had received the crude in exchange for aid, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing emails and documents that it has reviewed.
Vitol hasn’t traded Venezuelan crude oil since the beginning of last year when the U.S. tightened sanctions against Nicolas Maduro’s regime and essentially banned Venezuelan crude oil exports into the United States.
Since then, the U.S. Administration has further increased the pressure on Maduro and Venezuela’s oil industry by sanctioning last month a Geneva-based trading unit of Rosneft, saying that the company Rosneft Trading has been helping Maduro’s regime to evade sanctions and to continue selling oil to keep the regime alive. Washington sanctioned its second Rosneft subsidiary this week.
Vitol is negotiating the purchase of Venezuelan oil from Mexican firm
Libre Abordo, which had received the oil in a barter deal with Venezuela in exchange for aid.
Vitol fully complies with any existing laws and regulations, including sanctions on Venezuela, the oil trading giant told Bloomberg, noting that “Vitol would only consider receiving product of Venezuelan origin if it had the relevant assurances that it could do so lawfully.”
Last week, Reuters reported that privately owned Libre Abordo had received so far 6.2 million barrels of Venezuelan crude to resell on international markets and has another two cargoes of crude oil and fuel, to be loaded this month. The Mexican company received the barrels of crude from Venezuela’s state oil firm PdVSA in exchange for corn and water, according to documents Reuters has seen.
The contract between the Mexican firm and Caracas was signed last year, Libre Abordo told Reuters, and was still in effect. Since there were no cash payments involved in the relationship, there was no danger of violating U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.