Venezuelan Oil Loses Two U.S. Buyers in 2018 Amid Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- Five U.S. refiners either significantly reduced or totally replaced purchases of Venezuelan crude in 2018, and more may follow suit as president Donald Trump mulls new sanctions against the South American nation.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Phillips 66 haven’t processed Venezuelan crude in their U.S. refineries since the U.S. imposed financial sanctions against the country and its oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, in August 2017. Marathon Petroleum Corp, Total SA and Motiva Enterprises LLC cut intake by more than a half during that period, and as Venezuelan oil production slumped to the lowest levels seen since the 1940s.

Valero Energy Corp. and PDVSA’s U.S. refining unit, Citgo Petroleum Corp., are the exception. Valero increased Venezuelan oil processing by 4.6 percent between January and October of 2018, compared with the same period a year earlier, while Citgo raised processing by 16 percent, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Venezuelan Oil Loses Two U.S. Buyers in 2018 Amid Sanctions

Venezuelan oil is losing its clout in the U.S. at a time when fuelmakers are processing crude at the highest rates in at least the past five years. Mexico replaced Venezuela to become the top supplier of oil to refiners on the U.S. Gulf, site of the world’s largest cluster of refineries, EIA data shows.

The U.S. is mulling a new round of sanctions against Venezuela after president Nicolas Maduro embarked on a second term Jan. 10, even as more than 60 nations refuse to recognize his 2018 election. The new sanctions may affect oil, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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