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US sanctions on PDVSA aim for regime change in Venezuela

Washington — US Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit Colombia on Monday to bolster the Trump administration's push for regime change in Venezuela as US sanctions on state-owned oil company PDVSA enter their fifth week.

While in Bogota, Pence will "state plainly that the time has come for [Venezuelan President] Nicolas Maduro to step aside," the White House said in a statement Thursday.

Pence's visit comes as Maduro has ordered Venezuela's border with Brazil closed, the latest attempt to block aid deliveries he has said are attempts to destabilize his government.

The US and other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president.

Here's a look at the sanctions the Trump administration imposed to accelerate regime change:

  • On January 28, the US Treasury Department unveils sweeping sanctions on PDVSA, setting an immediate ban on US exports of diluent to Venezuela and requiring payments made to PDVSA to be through blocked accounts, setting up a de facto ban on US imports of Venezuela crude.
  • On February 1, Treasury announced that transactions between non-US firms and PDVSA which involve the US financial system or US commodity brokers would be prohibited after April 28.
  • PDVSA crude oil production, which averaged an estimated 1.6 million b/d in January, is expected to fall below 800,000 b/d in January due to the loss of US diluent imports.
  • Venezuelan oil production is expected to fall to 500,000 b/d by the end of the year due to US sanctions, according to Elliott Abrams, the US Department of State's special representative for Venezuela.
  • Exports of MTBE and other gasoline additives to Venezuela must be wound down by February 27, a prohibition likely to exacerbate a gasoline shortage there.
  • PDVSA-owned Citgo assets in the US, which include refineries in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois and three pipeline systems, will be allowed to continue to operate, at least for three months, although revenues also will be required to be held in blocked accounts.
  • Last week, Treasury formally blocked Venezuelan oil minister Manuel Quevedo from the US financial system.

-- Brian Scheid,

-- Herman Wang,

-- Edited by Richard Rubin,

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