Venezuela’s Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo insists the US is behind what he described as a terrorist attack on his country’s oil plant, where a blaze took place earlier this week.
“There was a terrorist act that we denounce at an international level,” Quevedo told state television network VTV.
He also accused Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president and opposition leader Juan Guaido of collusion with the US.
Quevedo tweeted earlier that the Venezuelan opposition is “intensifying terrorist incursions” against the state-run oil company PDVSA in order to negatively impact Venezuela's crude exports, which are vital to the nation's economy.
Slamming the opposition as “traitors”, he wrote that the US “decided to rob Venezuela of its oil resources [and] wants blood to flow”.
There was no immediate reaction from Washington with respect to Quevedo’s remarks, which came after three storage tanks at the Petro San Felix heavy oil processing plant in eastern Venezuela caught fire late Wednesday.
The incident followed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s accusations earlier this month that the country’s opposition and US authorities are eager to start a war for the Latin American country’s natural resources.
“No one should let themselves be fooled! The Venezuelan opposition and the US government do not want to help the country. On the contrary, they want to seize our natural resources. They want to unleash an ‘oil war’ to invade our homeland and rule here! But they will fail!" Maduro tweeted.
Earlier, he claimed that Washington’s restrictive measures against PDVSA were tantamount to an illegal seizure of Venezuela’s sovereign assets.
In January, the US blocked $7 billion in PDVSA assets in its jurisdiction and imposed a ban on deals with the entity. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that by doing so, Washington was taking care of PDVSA, and that it was in the interests of the Venezuelan people.
The US immediately recognised Guaido, with many of its allies following suit. Russia, China, Mexico, Turkey and a number of other countries have stated that they recognise Maduro as Venezuela’s only legitimate president.