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Russia braces for possible US sanctions against its oil major Rosneft

Russia braces for possible US sanctions against its oil major Rosneft
The Russian government has expressed concern over Washington’s recent threats to slap sanctions on Russian state oil giant Rosneft regarding its business dealings in Venezuela.

“We are concerned about the recent statements made by [US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott] Abrams regarding ‘all options on the table,’ which he repeats from time to time, and his threats to impose sanctions on Rosneft,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS on Thursday.

He noted that although “sanctions themselves produce no effect,” the Russian government is worried that the United States lacks “real understanding of the situation and the interrelation of various processes regarding Venezuela in the United States’ policy.”

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US envoy Abrams earlier this week said Washington did not rule out sanctioning Rosneft for business with Venezuela in the future, but was not ready to do it so far. He admitted, also, that Rosneft’s current activities in Venezuela do not violate existing US sanctions against the country.

Rosneft, which is a major investor in Venezuela, is currently working on a number of joint exploration and production projects with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA. According to Rosneft, the total geological reserves under these projects are estimated at 20.5 billion tons of oil.

Rosneft also became the main trader of Venezuelan crude last month, facilitating shipments of the country’s oil to China and India, Venezuela’s largest oil buyers. It took some 40 percent of PDVSA’s exports in July and over 66 percent in August, according to the firm’s export programs and the Refinitiv Eikon data. This came as an attempt to help Venezuela, where oil accounts for more than 95 percent of export revenue, to ease losses that stemmed from US sanctions.

Washington launched its sanctions campaign against the South American state’s oil industry in January, in an attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro, whose re-election in late 2018 was viewed by the United States and some Western governments as illegitimate.

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