Rosneft Could Close Venezuela Subsidiary Hit by U.S. Sanctions: Sources

Russia’s state-run oil giant Rosneft is considering the future of its trading arm after it was placed under U.S. sanctions in February for its role in Venezuelan oil marketing, The Financial Times reports.

Rosneft Trading (RTSA) is winding down its Geneva-based activity, according to one European trader. Three other trading sources said some RTSA personnel has been transferred to Rosneft’s German refining subsidiary, although the holding has not confirmed this.

“The future of RTSA as a trading business and its mandate is currently being considered, taking into account a potential change in the position of the U.S. regulators given comprehensive actions undertaken by the company to date,” Rosneft said in a statement Thursday.

It reiterated that “all trading operations of RTSA that have any relation with Venezuela have been ceased in their entirety since March 2020” and that the company “fulfilled all requirements that were put forward by OFAC in relation to its operations in Venezuela” — a reference to the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions enforcement arm, the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Rosneft emerged as the top buyer of Venezuelan crude in the months after the US imposed oil sanctions on Caracas in January last year. At least part of the Venezuelan supplies handled by Rosneft went towards paying down oil-backed debt owed by Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA.

Rosneft reported that the company had $800 million left to pay at the end of last year’s third quarter. But it has since stopped disclosing updates regarding the debt repayments.

Another Rosneft commercial subsidiary involved in Venezuelan oil trading, TNK Trading, was also hit by U.S. sanctions last month. Rosneft said on 28 March that it would sell 100% of its Venezuelan oil assets to another entity wholly owned by the Russian state. The company said at the time that it expected U.S. regulators to fulfill their promise to lift sanctions.