State-run PDVSA several weeks ago informed customers of the new banking 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 The decision was made amid tension with some of its partners, which have withdrawn staff from Caracas since U.S. sanctions were imposed in January.
On Monday, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant in an attempt to prevent the proceeds of crude sales to the U.S. from reaching the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The Trump administration has drafted a slate of sanctions but hasn’t decided whether to deploy them, said people familiar with the matter. Earlier this month, White House officials warned U.S. refiners that sanctions were being considered, and advised them to seek alternative sources of heavy crude. Some U.S. refiners worried about sanctions experimented with alternatives last year before ultimately returning to Venezuelan crude.
Crude’s direction in coming weeks may be determined by whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia implement output cuts they have promised for the first six months of 2019. Also crucial will be the outcome of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China — the world’s two biggest economies. A deal between the nations could boost flagging global growth that underpins oil demand.
Both crude price benchmarks added to Tuesday’s 2 percent gains and have now been on the rise for eight straight days – their longest rally since June 2017
The investment bank now expects international benchmark Brent crude to average $62.50 a barrel this year, down from a previous forecast of $70. Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is expected to average $55.50 in 2019, down from a prior estimate of $64.50
Iran has urged European countries, which are still committed to the nuclear deal, to oppose the sanctions by creating a financial mechanism that facilitates payments of Iranian oil sales.