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CERAWeek: India committed to reducing imports of Venezuelan crude

Houston — India's government is pushing a reduction of Venezuelan crude imports in coordination with US sanctions on PDVSA, M.M. Kutty, India's petroleum secretary, said Monday at CERAWeek by IHS Markit in Houston.

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Kutty said government-owned enterprises import little to no Venezuelan crude and said the government has stressed to private firms the sanctions risk of importing Venezuelan crude, Kutty told reporters.

"We have apprised them of the sanctions and the consequences that could follow," he said.

India, which has a refining sector heavily reliant on heavy crude, is one of the few remaining cash markets for Venezuelan crude. Kutty said India imports roughly 83% of its oil and about 50% of its natural gas.

"That doesn't mean we have to rely on any single country to meet our domestic requirements," he said.

On January 28, the US unveiled sweeping sanctions on PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, 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.

The US has also 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.

India was one of eight nations to receive a waiver, known as a significant reduction exemption, from the US when sanctions on Iranian crude oil were reimposed in November. The waiver expires in May, but Kutty declined to comment if the US has indicated the waiver may be extended or modified.

"We are in dialogue with them, let's see what happens," he said. "There is time, the US understands our difficulties."

-- Brian Scheid,

-- Edited by Jennifer Pedrick,