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Venezuela has suspended crude oil exports to India, one of its key markets until very recently, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a statement from the energy ministry of Azerbaijan, where Venezuela’s Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo is on a visit for this past weekend’s OPEC+ panel meeting and for talks with his Azeri counterpart.
“Russia and China are seen as the main destinations because of the suspension of oil exports to India,” Reuters quoted the Azeri ministry as saying in a statement after a meeting between the Venezuelan and Azeri oil and energy ministers on Tuesday.
“Quevedo said in order to prevent a sharp reduction, various measures are being implemented and diversification of the export market is underway,” the statement further reads, as carried by Reuters.
India has been one of the largest buyers of Venezuelan oil and the second-largest customer paying in cash, following the United States. Russia and China, which Maduro sees as priority markets, are owed money by Venezuela that repays loans to Moscow and Beijing mostly with crude oil shipments.
The U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil at the end of January essentially cut off Venezuelan exports to the United States. Washington has also warned other countries against buying oil from Nicolas Maduro’s regime and has been pressing India to refrain from buying Venezuelan crude.
Related: Cuba Faces Oil Crisis As Venezuela Crumbles
Last month, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton warned countries and companies against buying crude oil from Venezuela after Manuel Quevedo said during a surprise visit to India that Venezuela was looking to sell more oil to the fast-growing Indian market.
In a tweet with a Bloomberg article on Venezuelan-Indian oil relations attached, Bolton wrote: “Nations and firms that support Maduro’s theft of Venezuelan resources will not be forgotten. The United States will continue to use all of its powers to preserve the Venezuelan people’s assets and we encourage all nations to work together to do the same.”
The United States has also pressed India to stop buying Venezuelan crude oil as a means of accelerating Nicolas Maduro’s removal from office.
“We say you should not be helping this regime. You should be on the side of the Venezuelan people,” the U.S. envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told Reuters in an interview published earlier this month.
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.