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US sanctions 'practically immobilizing PDVSA': Venezuelan oil minister Quevedo

Vienna — US sanctions against Venezuela are "practically immobilizing" state-ownedoil company PDVSA, Venezuelan oil minister Manuel Quevedo said Thursdayin Vienna.

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"These sanctions are very strong, the sanctions are practicallyimmobilizing PDVSA," Quevedo told reporters on the sidelines of the OPECInternational Seminar ahead of Friday's OPEC meeting. "They are trying toasphyxiate PDVSA."

OPEC and its 10 non-OPEC partners are in talks in Vienna to ease theirsupply cut agreement in response to supply tightness caused by Venezuela'scollapsing economy, the US reimposing sanctions on Iran in November and otherfactors.

Ministers have not agreed how any production increase would be divvied upbetween countries.

US sanctions against Venezuela include restrictions on PDVSA's ability tofinance new debt, worsening its production outlook, and the US has threatenedfurther penalties in the wake of Venezuela's recent presidential election,which many international observers have labeled unfair.

Quevedo said he was bringing a message to Vienna to condemn the unfair USsanctions.

"It affects not just the Venezuelan oil sector but the consumersworldwide," he said. "It's an attack on the oil market. Oil is a instrumentfor development, not an instrument for a political attack."

Venezuela produced 1.36 million b/d in May, according to the latest S&PGlobal Platts OPEC survey, a 910,000 b/d decline in two years.

Quevedo said Venezuela is producing 1.59 million b/d and aims to increaseoutput by 1 million b/d by the end of the year.

He said PDVSA has complied with its contractual and financialobligations, never missing paying "even one dollar."

Quevedo said PDVSA was in talks with ConocoPhillips to resolve assetseizures in Curacao, where a court authorized the US oil company to seizeabout $636 million in assets in a lawsuit over Venezuela nationalizing itsprojects in 2007.

"We are talking to Conoco, we have a confidentiality agreement betweenus. How do we resolve it? With our theme, talking. We are talking withConocoPhillips to overcome come this."

"I can't give details due to the confidentiality agreement. We're waitingfor the outcome in the coming days," he added.

A ConocoPhillips spokesman did not immediately response to a request forcomment.


--Edited by James Leech,