More Troubles for Tankers as US Sanctions Rosneft Trading S.A.?

The Trump administration has designated Rosneft Trading S.A., a Geneva-based subsidiary of the Russian state-controlled global energy giant Rosneft Oil Company, for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. 

The sanctions are expected to make it more difficult for Venezuela to export oil, especially to China and India, exerting further pressure on the tanker market.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said that it had also designated the chairman of the board of directors and president of Rosneft Trading S.A., Didier Casimiro for his actions linked to Rosneft Trading S.A.

“Rosneft Trading S.A. and its president brokered the sale and transport of Venezuelan crude oil,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States is determined to prevent the looting of Venezuela’s oil assets by the corrupt Maduro regime.”

Rosneft Trading S.A., a trading company in January 2011, was created to assist Rosneft Oil Company in carrying out its foreign projects. The core activities of Rosneft Trading S.A. are marketing and distribution, including the trading, processing, and transport of raw materials, in particular unrefined petroleum and petroleum products.

The company was marketing Venezuelan crude over the last nine months with oil supplied in return for loan repayments. The oil is believed to had been further shipped to China and India.

It is estimated that Rosneft accounts for 80 percent of tankers chartered for Venezuelan oil exports.

OFAC stressed that Rosneft’s unit engaged in ship-to-ship oil transfers to hide the identity of Venezuelan oil.

The treasury said that in January 2020, Rosneft Trading S.A. facilitated, on behalf of PdVSA, which has also been designated by the U.S., a shipment of two million barrels of Merey-16 crude oil from Venezuela to West Africa.

The U.S. Administration also pointed to al least three different shipments from 2019 exceeding 57 million barrels of Venezuelan crude oil.

“The United States has made it clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for those who take concrete, meaningful, and verifiable actions to support democratic order in Venezuela,” the treasury added.

OFAC gave companies 90 days to wind down transactions involving Rosneft Trading S.A.

Back in December 2019, the U.S. blacklisted six tankers that were shipping Venezuelan crude oil from Venezuela to Cuba.

The six vessels — Icaro, Luisa Caceres de Arismendi, Manuela Saenz, Paramaconi, Terepaima, and Yare — have been identified as blocked property of Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PdVSA.

Additionally, the Treasury Department also identified the vessel Esperanza as blocked property of Caroil Transport Marine which was sanctioned in September last year.

In January 2019, the U.S. imposed sanctions on PdVSA as part of further pressure on the government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro. The measure is aimed at preventing further diverting of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro and the use of the oil firm in corrupt practices.

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