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US Not Ruling Out Sanctions on Russia's Rosneft Over Venezuelan Oil Trade - Special Representative

© Sputnik / Rian PhotoEmployees of the oil company "Rosneft" started drilling the most northern on the Russian Arctic shelf wells "Central Olginskaya-1"
Employees of the oil company Rosneft started drilling the most northern on the Russian Arctic shelf wells Central Olginskaya-1 - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Washington cannot exclude imposing sanctions against Russian oil company Rosneft at some point over buying Venezuelan oil, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said.

"Yes, it can be [sanctioned]. We have not gotten to that point yet”, Abrams said, when asked if Rosneft might be targeted with sanctions.

The special representative suggested that Rosneft was buying "increased amounts of crude oil from Venezuela" and reselling it.

"At some point, we will have to consider the question of Rosneft’s conduct and what kind of reaction we want to have to it”, Abrams said.

The special representative called the relocation of the European office of Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA from Lisbon to Moscow a "nice symbol" of Venezuelan-Russian ties growing closer.

Meanwhile, Rosneft has responded to the US statement about possible sanctions due to oil purchases from Venezuela, saying that "operations are being carried out under previous contracts signed before the imposition of sanctions and do not pursue any interests other than ensuring the return on investments made earlier".

The company added that any attempts to limit it in returning its investment in Venezuela will be considered an expropriation of such investment by the US.

The statement comes after the Russian company said that Venezuela's PDVSA had reduced its debt to Russia's Rosneft on advance payments issued in the second quarter of this year to $1.1 billion from $1.8 billion. According to Rosneft, at the end of last year, PDVSA’s debt on advance payments issued amounted to $2.3 billion, on 30 September 2018 - $3.1 billion, at the end of June 2018 - $3.6 billion, at the end March 2018 - $4 billion, at the end of 2017 - $4.6 billion.

In August, Russia and Venezuela signed a protocol on facilitating Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft's activities at two gas fields on the Latin American country's shelf. The document, signed on 10 July, has been published in Russia's official legal information portal. It amends the bilateral agreement on joint strategic projects, signed on 10 September 2009.

For months, Washington has been using various measures, including economic sanctions, to undermine Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's position and facilitate a transfer of power from him to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who illegally declared himself the interim head of state in January.

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