Several Indian firms have already stopped importing oil from Venezuela after the US reportedly instructed oil refineries around the world to curtail their dealings with Caracas or face sanctions themselves. The move comes after the US slapped additional sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry earlier this year to weaken the Maduro government.
US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams has praised India for its collaboration in terms of adding to Washington’s efforts to restrict exports of Venezuelan oil in the global energy market.
“I would say that we have had contacts with Indian companies and with the government of India, and that we have found there to be a very considerable amount of cooperation, which we are very happy to see”, Abrams said.
READ MORE: Toughest US Sanctions Against Venezuela ‘Yet to Come’ — Bolton
The statement comes after a spate of Indian companies halted oil imports from Venezuela after Washington urged international oil refineries to scrap their partnership with Caracas or face sanctions themselves.
Reuters cited unnamed sources as saying that the US is particularly interested in cutting supplies of gasoline and oil products used to dilute heavy Venezuelan oil to make it suitable for export.
Earlier, Washington introduced sanctions against Venezuela’s PDVSA state oil company, blocking $7 billion of the company’s assets and pressuring businesses to cut ties with the firm until 11 March. The deadline, however, was later extended until 10 May.
READ MORE: Guaido Claims Has Control Over Venezuela’s US-Based PDVSA Subsidiary
Due to US-imposed sanctions, Venezuela’s overall exports of crude oil and fuel reportedly dropped to 920,000 barrels per day in the first month of sanctions, roughly 30 per cent less than the 1.5 million bpd traded in the prior three months.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, for his part, claimed that the US wants “to unleash an ‘oil war’ to invade our homeland and rule here”, adding that these attempts are bound to fail.
The political standoff in Venezuela escalated on 23 January, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s “interim president”. Maduro slammed Guaido’s move as an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.
The United States immediately recognised Guaido, with about 50 other countries following. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia and a number of other states have, in turn, voiced their support for Maduro’s legitimate government.