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Nicolas Maduro has ordered an office in Europe of Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA to be moved to Moscow, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday after meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Russian capital.
Russia is one of Maduro’s key supporters in the political power struggle in the Latin American country sitting on top of the world’s largest oil reserves, while the U.S. and many European nations have recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president.
Russia has stood by Maduro for years and has poured billions of U.S. dollars in Venezuela in the form of loans and oil investments, even when all other Venezuelan allies—including China—have shown reluctance to continue lending money to Maduro’s regime.
After meeting with Russia’s Lavron today, Venezuela’s Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said that “President Nicolas Maduro instructed the Lisbon branch of PDVSA to close this office and relocate the office to Moscow.”
The relocation of PDVSA’s office is part of a broader agreement to boost cooperation with Russia’s giant energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom, Russian news agency TASS quoted Venezuela’s Rodriguez as saying.
“This is done in line with our plans to expand technical cooperation in the oil production area with Rosneft, with Gazprom. The moment now is the most suitable to do so. We are changing the format of our relations,” Rodriguez said, as carried by TASS.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Lavrov said that he discussed with Rodriguez the situation in Venezuela, noting that the Latin American country is a “long-standing and reliable partner” of Russia. Russia reaffirmed its solidarity with the people of Venezuela and its legitimate government, and supported its efforts to defend its sovereignty and independence, Lavrov said, as carried by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russian companies in Venezuela were not experiencing any problems resulting from the escalation in the political situation in the country and had not incurred any losses on the oil they produce there.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
The United States has sanctioned PDVSA in an attempt to cut off funds to the Maduro-led government while giving support to the opposition led by Juan Guaido. In late January, the US froze $7 billion of assets belonging to PDVSA and its US subsidiary Citgo.
Russia and China who extended loans estimated at $30 bn to Venezuela will do whatever they can to ensure that the Venezuelan economy doesn’t collapse.
Venezuela is planning to broaden its trade with Russia purchasing among many things Russian food and medicines in exchange for oil. Caracas considers Russia an important strategic partner economically and geopolitically and it hopes to be able to attract more investments into the Venezuelan economy with Russia’s help.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London