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Exclusive: Venezuela shifts oil ventures' accounts to Russian bank -document, sources

Reuters  |  CARACAS 

By Pons and Parraga

(Reuters) - Venezuela's state-run company is telling customers of its joint ventures to deposit sales proceeds in an account recently opened at Russia's Gazprombank AO, according to sources and an internal document seen by on Saturday.

PDVSA's move comes after the imposed tough, new financial sanctions on Jan. 28 aimed at blocking Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro's access to the country's revenue.

Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim said recently that a fund would be established to accept proceeds from sales of Venezuelan oil.

The and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaido as the nation's legitimate Maduro has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet seeking to foment a coup.

also has begun pressing its foreign partners holding stakes in joint ventures in its key Orinoco Belt producing area to formally decide whether they will continue with the projects, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks.

The joint venture partners include Norway's Equinor ASA, U.S.-based and France's Total SA.

"We would like to make formal your knowledge of new instructions to make payments in U.S. dollars or euros," wrote PDVSA's vice president, Fernando De Quintal, in a letter dated Feb. 8 to the unit that supervises its joint ventures.

Even after a first round of financial sanctions in 2017, PDVSA's joint ventures managed to maintain in the and to receive proceeds from They also used banks in the United States and to shift money to PDVSA's accounts in

State-run PDVSA several weeks ago informed customers of the new instructions and has begun moving the accounts of its joint ventures, which can export crude separately. The decision was made amid tension with some of its partners, which have withdrawn staff from since U.S. sanctions were imposed in January.

The sanctions gave U.S. oil companies working in Venezuela, including Chevron and Halliburton Co, General Electric Co's and Schlumberger NV, a deadline to halt all operations in the South American country. The has encouraged member countries to recognize a new temporary government led by Guaido until new elections can be held. also has said it could impose financial sanctions to from having access to coming from the region.

Maduro has overseen an economic collapse in the oil-rich OPEC country that has left many Venezuelans malnourished and struggling to find medicine, sparking the exodus of an estimated 3 million Venezuelans.

Sanctions designed to deprive Maduro of have left an armada of off Venezuela's coasts that have not been discharged by PDVSA's customers due to payment issues. The bottleneck has caused problems for PDVSA to continue producing and refining oil without imported diluents and components.

PDVSA also ordered its Petrocedeno joint venture with Equinor and Total to halt extra-heavy and upgrading due to a lack of naphtha needed to make the production exportable, as the sanctions prohibit U.S. suppliers of the fuel from exporting to

(Reporting by Parraga in Mexico City and Pons in Caracas; editing by and G Crosse)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, February 10 2019. 08:51 IST
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