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Venezuela Reels As Chinese Oil Giant Bends To U.S. Sanctions

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which was a key buyer of Venezuelan oil until recently, will not be purchasing oil from the South American country for a second month in a row in September as it is careful not to violate stricter U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, Reuters reported on Tuesday, quoting two sources familiar with the plans.

This is the second month in which the Chinese state-held giant refused to buy oil from Venezuela, which has been delivering crude and refined products to CNPC to repay the billions of dollars that China has lent to Venezuela.

Last month, CNPC canceled loading plans for 5 million barrels of Venezuelan oil, after U.S. President Donald Trump signed earlier in August an executive order freezing all assets of the Venezuelan government in the United States, and noting the move may open space for sanctions against companies doing business with the Maduro government.

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China was one of PDVSA’s top buyers of crude oil, even after the initial rounds of sanctions on Venezuela took hold. But now things are changing, and the most recent screw-turning by the Trump administration has foreign oil companies who do business with PDVSA on edge. The new sanctions target companies - even foreign ones - doing business with PDVSA, threatening to seize their assets in the United States if they have any.

Now it looks like CNPC is not taking chances with potentially running afoul of the U.S. administration.

“CNPC at the group level has made it clear not to load Venezuelan oil,” a source with direct knowledge of the corporation’s thinking told Reuters.

As the United States is tightening the sanctions on Venezuela and its state-held oil firm PDVSA, China’s imports of Venezuelan oil plunged by 62 percent in July compared to June amid buyers’ concerns that they could risk secondary U.S. sanctions if they do business with Venezuela’s oil. China imported 165,720 bpd of oil from Venezuela in July, down from 275,646 bpd in June, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs carried by Reuters.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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