US warns nations against buying Venezuelan oil

Reacting to Quevedo's India visit, Bolton said "nations and firms that support Maduro's theft of Venezuelan resources will not be forgotten".

WASHINGTON: America's tough-talking national security adviser John Bolton has warned countries, including India, against buying Venezuelan oil, saying nations and firms that support the embattled President Nicolas Maduro's "theft" will "not be forgotten".

 Bolton's warning through a tweet on Tuesday came a day after Venezuelan oil minister and president of the Latin American state-run oil company PDVSA, Manuel Quevedo, said that his sanctions-hit country wants to sell more crude oil to India.

The US has slapped sweeping sanctions on PDVSA with a view to curb 

's crude exports and put pressure on socialist President Maduro to step down.

With the US stopping imports from Venezuela, PDVSA is seeking to retain buyers in other big consuming countries such as China and India. 

Quevedo, who now holds the rotating presidency of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is in India to convince refiners to double their oil purchases.

 "India certainly has a good and healthy relationship with us and all the members of the OPEC and that will continue.

 So, we always keep these communications and relations with all-consuming countries in order to ensure stability and balance will continue," Quevedo told reporters on the sidelines of the Petrotech conference in Greater Noida on Monday "We are selling more than 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to Indian buyers. 

We want to double that amount," Quevedo said, adding that the US has caused a loss of about $20 billion to Venezuela's oil revenue-dependent economy. 

Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to India, which is the world's third-biggest oil consumer. 

Reacting to Quevedo's India visit, Bolton said "nations and firms that support Maduro's theft of Venezuelan resources will not be forgotten".

 "The United States will continue to use all of its powers to preserve the Venezuelan people's assets and we encourage all nations to work together to do the same," he tweeted. 

 The country's oil exports since the sanctions took effect on January 28 have fallen to 1.15 million bpd of crude and refined products, Refinitiv Eikon data showed, down from about 1.4 million bpd. 

The Latin American country has the world's largest known reserves of oil estimated at more than 300 billion barrels - bigger than Saudi Arabia's 266 billion barrels. President Maduro has called Donald Trump's government a "gang of extremists" and blamed the US for his country's crisis.

 He is under growing internal and international pressure to call early presidential elections amid a worsening economic crisis and accusations of rapid corruption and human rights violations. 

India has not followed the the US in recognising Maduro's opponent Juan Guaido as the president and stop dealing with Maduro's administration.

 "India and Venezuela enjoy close and cordial relations. 

We are of the view that it is for the people of Venezuela to find political solutions to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and discussion without resorting to violence," external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last month.

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