U.S. Buying More Oil from Russia amid Venezuela Crisis: Report

Russia is taking advantage of lost deliveries from sanctions-hit Venezuela and supply cuts by OPEC members to sell more oil to the United States, Bloomberg reports.

According to a report by Caracas Capital Markets managing partner Russ Dallen, 13 ships from Russia delivered almost 5 million barrels of crude and oil products to the U.S. in the first half of May. More supplies are on their way, with American refiners set to triple their monthly intake of Russian crude, the largest foreign producer outside of OPEC.

“Lately, Russian shipments coming to the U.S. seem to be on steroids,” Dallen said.

Through February, U.S. buyers received over 16 million barrels of crude and products, compared to about 20 million for the same period last year. For all of 2018, shipments were about 137 million, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

On Monday it was reported that tough U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports are forcing the country to negotiate with Russia over abandoning the dollar in their bilateral trade settlements. The two countries are in talks over the use of the Russian ruble, according to Jorge Valero, Venezuela’s representative in UN’s Geneva offices. The two parties are also discussing the possible use of Venezuela’s state-backed cryptocurrency known as the Petro.

The state-backed cryptocurrency was intended to serve as a substitute for the failing bolivar currency which has been eroded by hyperinflation, help to dodge U.S. sanctions and give the South American country access to international finance.

“In 2019, we have a schedule for [oil] to be sold in Petros and in this way continue to free us from a currency that the elite of Washington uses,” Maduro said in December 2018.