Venezuela prepared for potential US oil sanctions: Minister

Venezuela's oil minister said on Thursday that the OPEC nation has a fallback plan in place in case the US decides to impose sanctions on its crude exports.

IANS| Updated: Mar 20, 2015, 08:07 AM IST

Caracas: Venezuela's oil minister said on Thursday that the OPEC nation has a fallback plan in place in case the US decides to impose sanctions on its crude exports.

"We're prepared. We have our plans in place to respond to any action that they (the US) may take in the oil area," Asdrubal Chavez said in an interview published by the Hoy Venezuela Web portal.

He was referring to the US government's announcement on March 9 that President Barack Obama had signed an executive order declaring a "national emergency" in response to the "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by" leftist-led Venezuela.

The order also imposed sanctions on several Venezuelan officials, further damaging already strained ties between the two countries.

After the order was issued, however, the Obama administration ruled out the possibility that the US, the No.1 customer for Venezuelan crude, slightly ahead of China, would impose sanctions on the South American country's oil sector.

Venezuela's oil industry, which accounts for the vast majority of the country's hard-currency earnings and about half of budget revenues, is prepared to seek out other markets in the event the US decides to impose sanctions, Chavez said.

The world's fifth-largest crude exporter, Venezuela sells around 2.5 million barrels of oil per day to foreign markets, approximately 870,000 bpd of which -- including crude and petroleum products -- are destined for the US.

Venezuela's 2015 budget is based on the assumption of an average price of $60 a barrel for the country's crude mix, although that basket has fallen to $47.91 per barrel amid a global plunge in oil prices.