The US may have dealt Venezuela another blow by sanctioning Rosneft subsidiary Rosneft Trading last week, but as the company dealing the most oil from Venezuela is hamstrung, another Rosneft subsidiary has stepped up to the plate to fill the gaps, Bloomberg said on Monday.
Now, TNK Trading International SA—a company controlled by oil giant Rosneft—seems to be upping its loadings of Venezuelan crude oil, scheduled to load more than 14 million barrels of it in January and February this year. By comparison, 2019 saw TNK Trading load 5 million barrels total for the year.
Rosneft Trading hasn’t loaded any Venezuelan oil since January 29, although it wasn’t sanctioned until February 18.
The timing of Rosneft Trading’s apparent drop off in Venezuelan loadings, uptick in TNK Trading’s Venezuelan loadings, and the latest sanctions have unclear meanings—but the US was mulling these sanctions on Rosneft back in September.
Last week was seen by many as a warning by the United States to parent Rosneft, the latter of which has extensive oil operations in sanctioned Venezuela. Still, the US has stopped short of sanctioning the Rosneft, who stands accused of propping up the socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro. But once that card is played, there is little else to ratchet up to should the need arise.
Trafigura responded last week to the new round of Rosneft Trading sanctions by saying it would wind down its dealings with Rosneft Trading by May. But it is unclear how effective the sanctions are, if another of Rosneft’s companies picks up the slack.
Last week’s sanctions block all US assets of Rosneft Trading, and extend to anyone doing business with Rosneft Trading, but do allow for a 90-day wind down period for companies currently doing business with Rosneft Trading.
In addition to loading Venezuelan crude, which it sells to other buyers afraid of running afoul of US sanctions, Rosneft Trading did a fair bit of fuel deliveries to Venezuela as well.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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