The State Department unveiled the new sanctions against Rosneft Trading SA-and its president, Didier Casimiro-over its relationship with Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro at a press briefing on Thursday morning. "We went after the operational company", he said in response to a question asking why the sanctions targeted the Swiss subsidiary, as opposed to the Russia-based parent. It has also given the companies doing business with Rosneft Trading 90 days to disentangle those arrangements.
Also supporting oil prices were USA sanctions this week on a trading unit of Russian oil giant Rosneft for its ties with Venezuela's state-run PDVSA and conflict in Libya that has led to a blockade of its ports and oilfields.
"The sanctions, the blockade - I will not accept any more excuses", Maduro said.
Together With the sanctions, the United States likewise provided a basic licence permitting business 90 days to unwind their deals with Rosneft Trading.
The sanctions imposed on Rosneft Trading - the toughest in the U.S. Treasury's arsenal - make it effectively untouchable to global companies, including shipowners, insurers and banks.
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"However, it is likely to make it even harder for Venezuela to place oil on the market", Commerzbank AG said in a report.
The shipments consisted of Merey-16 crude oil, a heavy, sour crude produced by Venezuela that the companies' refineries are configured to process, Reuters has previously reported.
The initial judge postponed a preliminary hearing for the men, five naturalized US citizens and one legal resident, 15 straight times, adding to speculation the men were being used as political pawns as relationships between the USA and Venezuela soured. Vitol Group, the world's largest independent oil trader, also reduced its projected demand for the quarter to 98.3 million barrels per day, or 2.2 million barrels a day lower from its prior expectations.
Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said in a statement on February 18 that fuel vessels were urgently evacuated from the Tripoli port and all offloading operations were cancelled after missiles struck close to a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker discharging in the port.