Exclusive-PetroChina aims to resume Venezuelan oil imports after 4-year pause

By Marianna Parraga and Chen Aizhu

HOUSTON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China’s PetroChina is proposing to buy up to 8 million barrels a month of Venezuelan crude from state-run oil company PDVSA, according to four people familiar with the matter, hoping to resume a trade suspended four years ago by U.S. sanctions.

In October, the U.S. Treasury Department temporarily lifted the sanctions, paving the way for Venezuela to resume exporting crude, gas and fuel to its best customers.

Since then, some companies that had acquired its oil prior to sanctions have sought to revive those deals.

PetroChina, China’s second-largest oil refiner, has offered yuan payment for about 265,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan crude through its joint ventures with PDVSA, which would allow them to rebuild cashflow and capital for production investment, the people said.

The company before sanctions was taking up to six 2-million-barrel cargoes of Venezuelan oil per month.

“They are working on it,” said a person close to PetroChina.

PDVSA and PetroChina did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Washington first imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in early 2019 and later banned non-U.S. customers from buying its oil, disrupting the business between PDVSA and Chinese state companies including China National Petroleum Corp and PetroChina.

Those deals had allowed Venezuela to export cargoes to meet debt repayments.

(Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Aizhu Chen in Singapore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jan Harvey)