Rosneft dodge

It is always dodgy with the Russians, right?

Russian petroleum giant Rosneft just announced that they sold their interests and stakes in Venezuela.  They want to dodge U.S. sanctions.  Who did they sell to?  They ain’t saying.

What they did say is that they sold to an entity that is owned by Mother Russia, but they would not identify it by name.  Now, you might guess that it would be Rosneftegaz, but there are other possibilities.  From Reuters:

Rosneft would not disclose the name of the company to which it had sold its Venezuelan operations. A spokesman for the Russian government confirmed it had purchased Rosneft’s operations in Venezuela, but declined to say what company was involved in the deal.

Over at American Thinker, Monica Showalter observed:

Given that Rosneft and the Russian government are effectively the same beast, it seems likely that it was a move to skirt sanctions. The state-linked company said as much, declaring it a move to “defend” the interests of its investors.

If true, the idea would be to fob the losses from sanctions — and the collapse in Venezuelan oil production itself — and the low global price of oil at $25 a barrel — and Venezuela’s really low $10 price per barrel of its particular crude — onto the Russian government, socializing the losses, while keeping any profits private.

Private, of course, means Russian cronies, such as Putin ally (albeit a cranky one) Igor Sechin, and all his pals and investors eager to get out from under the tough boot of U.S. sanctions.

The most interesting thing to me was in the Reuters report, where they give a concrete indication that Rosneft really thinks they are going to fool the Trump Administration.

Rosneft Trading and TNK [subsidiarities of Rosneft that are based in Switzerland] took more than a third of Venezuela’s oil exports in 2019, allowing PDVSA to continue crude shipments even after U.S. sanctions imposed on the company left many traditional customers unwilling to work with it.

But neither company has lifted Venezuelan crude so far in March, and three tankers chartered by Rosneft to transport some 5.7 million barrels left Caribbean waters empty on Saturday after waiting off the Venezuelan coast for weeks.

It was not immediately clear if the apparent pullback would lead to a lifting of sanctions on Rosneft Trading and TNK. The Treasury Department has said it will “consider lifting sanctions for those who take concrete, meaningful, and verifiable actions to support democratic order in Venezuela.”

“Now it is our right to expect the fulfillment of the promises that were made publicly by American regulators,” a Rosneft representative said.

Maduro undoubtedly was really disappointed to have tankers sail away empty.  U.S. sanctions are beginning to really bite.

Those tankers were beautiful.   They were huuge.

It may or may not suit Team Trump to play along with Rosneft for now.  The immediate point is to tighten the screws on Maduro.

If Trump loses in November, you can expect the Democrats to bail Maduro out and adopt his policies as much as they can for the U.S.A.

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6 thoughts on “Rosneft dodge”

  1. Reuters:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-rosneft-venezuela-idUSKBN21F0W2

    American Thinker:

    https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/03/is_russia_feeling_lucky_putin_seems_to_be_playing_chicken_with_trump_on_venezuela.html

    At American Thinker, Ms. Showalter also included a quote from a Financial Times article about Maduro’s dependence on Russia.   Venezuela is in such complete chaos that they cannot refine their own crude into gasoline any more, that they have been  trading crude to Rosneft for a mix of cash and gas.  Her concluding speculations:

    Is this no-name Russia company going to have the same quality of expertise as the Rosneft operation? Probably unlikely. Which means the Russian lifeline to Venezuela is unlikely, too, even as Russia seeks to keep its strategic footprint in Venezuela and officially defend the Venezuelan regime. Putin may well have just been getting out, and trying to keep Rosneft as well as Venezuela afloat, something that can only invite another harsh Trump move.

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  2. I have had dinner a few times with Thomas Lifson who runs American Thinker at Savage dinner parties.

    Has Hunter been appointed to the Board? Where’s Hunter?

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  3. Jack Sarfatti:
    I have had dinner a few times with Thomas Lifson who runs American Thinker at Savage dinner parties.

    Has Hunter been appointed to the Board? Where’s Hunter?

    That rumor is not showing up as anything that has happened yet, so I doubt that it will.

    Rosneft’s Board still reflects the reps from BP and the Arabs.

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