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Venezuela has moved to seize assets of six shipping companies claiming they have unpaid debt to state oil company PDVSA, Reuters reported, quoting a document it had seen and two unnamed sources.
According to the document, originating with Venezuela’s maritime authority INEA, a court had decreed that the six shipping companies had misappropriated funds at the expense of PDVSA without mentioning the exact size of the misappropriation.
Reuters notes that private shipping companies operating in Venezuela on behalf of its clients pay the Venezuelan state company fees for using the oil ports, which PDVSA owns, as well as fees for services such as anchorage and tugboats.
PDVSA is the focus of a recently announced energy emergency that President Nicolas Maduro blamed on U.S. sanctions.
“The sanctions, the blockade - I will not accept any more excuses. I am signing a decree to declare an energy emergency in the hydrocarbons industry in order to adapt necessary and urgent measures to guarantee national energy security and protect the industry from imperialist aggression,” the Venezuelan president said at the end of February.
Then, earlier this week, PDVSA said the president had appointed four new vice presidents at Venezuela’s state oil firm and a new president of the unit managing the company’s relations with private foreign firms.
Pressured by the sanctions as well as by years of underinvestment and mismanagement, PDVSA has passed a lot of day-to-day field operations into the hands of its foreign partners. The U.S., however, is not done with it.
“The President has made a decision to push harder on the Venezuelan oil sector and we’re going to do it. And what we’re telling people involved in this sector is that they should get out of it,” Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, told Reuters in an interview last week.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.