Venezuelan oil joint ventures switch to Russian bank

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Venezuela's oil minister made a surprise appearance at an energy event in India, as the embattled OPEC producer seeks closer ties with major crude customers in the face of crippling USA sanctions.

The sanctions gave USA oil companies working in Venezuela, including Chevron and oil service firms Halliburton Co, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes and Schlumberger NV, a deadline to halt all operations in the South American country.

The warning comes as global aid has taken center stage in a test of wills between Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro in which Venezuela's armed forces are seen as the pivotal player. "Donald Trump, get out of Venezuela". PDVSA is seeking to retain buyers in other big consuming-countries such as China and India after American refiners halted purchases.

Guaido says Maduro's re-election was fraudulent and as head of the opposition-led National Assembly, he has the constitutional right to invalidate the results and declare himself president until a new election is held.

Venezuela's oil output is now at 1.57 million bpd, Quevedo said.

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

Venezuela will need to make a lot more such sales to sustain its oil industry.

Sanctions have forced Citgo and other USA refiners to seek crude oil supplies from other nations.

Last year, when asked by Iran for support, OPEC did not issue any formal comments on the USA sanctions on Iran either. After the American restrictions were imposed on January 28, only one tanker has loaded over a 10-day period.

There are more than 8 million barrels of Venezuelan crude idling all over the Gulf of Mexico in an area that stretches from US coast to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, according to cargo-tracking and market intelligence company Kpler.

Citgo Petroleum Corp is a unit of PDVSA and Venezuela's top foreign asset. Maduro has denounced Guaido as a US puppet seeking to foment a coup.

"We stress that no new accounts have been opened and the bank does not plan to open any new accounts", Gazprombank said.

The U.S. wants to "steal Citgo from Venezuela", Quevedo said on Monday.

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