Venezuela threatens to interrupt US oil supply
The threat came in response to new US sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company, which currently provides about 10 percent of American oil imports.
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Venezuela's foreign minister warned late Tuesday that it could no longer guarantee regular oil shipments to the United States after Washington placed sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), this week. The spat underscores long-running tensions over what Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sees as America's disproportionate, unjust exercise of power on the world stage.
“There are several proposals that are being evaluated by President [Hugo] Chávez to respond to the United States’ imperialist pretensions,” said Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, according to the Miami Herald. A close associate of Chávez accused the US of trying to be "the world's policeman as it steps on the sovereignty of the people."
But for now, the almost 1 million barrels of oil a day that Venezuela sells to the US – 10 percent of US oil imports, more than 40 percent of Venezuela's oil exports – remain on track. Reuters reports that past threats to interrupt the US oil supply never materialized.
The sanctions, a response to Venezuela's continued assistance to Iran's energy industry, do not ban oil exports to the US and shouldn't affect the operations of the US branch of PDVSA. A decrease in supply to the US would be intentional, not a result of the sanctions.
The US is targeting PDVSA because it believes that Venezuela delivered $50 million worth of reformate, a "gasoline blending component," to Iran in the past year. The US hopes that the sanctions, which also target six oil and shipping in other countries, will cramp Iran's fuel supply. The Christian Science Monitor reports that although Iran has ample oil, its refinery capacity is inadequate and it imports 40 percent of its gasoline.