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Gazprombank Reportedly Freezes PDVSA Accounts

Gazprombank has reportedly frozen accounts held by Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and has stopped conducting transactions involving these accounts on concern of getting penalized under the latest round of U.S. sanctions against PDVSA, Reuters wrote, quoting an unnamed source from the bank.

The report follows another one from last week, which said PDVSA was telling the buyers of oil produced by its joint ventures to deposit the money for purchases in a new bank account recently opened at Russia’s Gazprombank.

The report, by Reuters, which said it had seen an internal document pointing in that direction, followed statements from the Venezuelan opposition—whose leader and President of the National Assembly declared himself interim president last month—that a special fund will be set up in the United States where proceeds from the sale of Venezuelan crude would go.

However, to make matters more interesting, Gazprombank was quick to deny the Reuters report. RT quoted the bank as saying, “No new accounts have been opened,” adding that the Reuters report “does not reflect the actual situation.” Yet the bank also said PDVSA had several accounts in it, although all of them were opened several years ago.

This time, Gazprombank has not replied to a Reuters request for comment while PDVSA was quick to call the report “fake news” on Twitter. Yet Reuters’ reporters note Russian companies are wary of falling under secondary sanctions for doing direct business with PDVSA, despite the Kremlin’s official support for the Maduro government.

Venezuela is still producing over a million barrels of crude daily, but finding buyers for the oil is becoming harder. Since the sanctions went into effect, exports to the U.S. effectively stopped but shipments to India increased: imports there went up by 66 percent to 620,000 bpd, making India the biggest importer of Venezuelan crude.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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