The Trump Administration is considerin possible sanctions from Venezuela’s Vital Energy Sector, Including the state oil company PDVSA, Senior White House Officials said, in what would be a Major escalation of the U.S. Efforts to pressure the country’s embattled leftism government amid a Crackdown on the opposition.
The idea of striking at the core of Venezuela’s economy, Which relies is the oil for about 95 percent of Export Revenues, has been discussed at high levels of the administration as part of a wide-ranging review of US options, but Officials said it Remains Under debate and action is not imminent.
The Officials, speaking the condition of anonymity, the told Reuters the United States could hit PDVSA as part of a “SECTORAL” That would take a sanctions package guessing at the OPEC nation’s Entire Energy Industry for the first time.
But they made clear the administration is moving cautiously, if Mindful That Such An Unprecedented Step is Taken It could deepen the country’s economic and social crisis, in Which Millions suffer food shortages and Soaring Inflation. Two Months of anti-government unrest has left more than 60 people dead.
Another complication factor would be the potential impact of oil shipments to the United States. Venezuela is the third Largest Oil Supplier for the U.S. after Canada and Saudi Arabia. It accounted for 8 percent of the U.S. Oil Imports in March, According to U.S. government figures.
“It’s being considered,” one of the Officials Told Reuters, saying aides to President Donald Trump have been tasked to have a recommendation ready the oil sector sanctions if needed. “I do not think we’re at a point to make a Decision on it. But all options are on the table. We want to see the bad actors Held to account. ”
The deliberations of the U.S. New sanctions will come against the backdrop of the worst protests yet faced by socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who Critics accuse of human rights abuses in a clampdown on the opposition.
Since Trump took office in January, he has Steppe Up Targeted sanctions from Venezuela, Including The vice president, the chief judge and seven other Supreme Court Justices. He has pressed the Organization of American States to do more to help the Resolve Crisis.
While Trump has Taken a more active approach to Venezuela than his Predecessor, Barack Obama, he has so far stopped short of drastic economic Moves That Could Hurt The Venezuelan people Maduro and give ammunition to accuse Washington of meddling.
The two Administration Officials said the United States is also PREPARED to impose further sanctions is the Senior Officials it accuses of corruption, drug trafficking, and who knows what the Critics’ Involvement in it as a campaign of political repression aimed for consolidation at Maduro’s rule.
Oil sanctions big step
But Broad Measures against the country’s vital oil sector, for Which the United States is the biggest customer, would significantly ratchet up Washington’s response. The United States has imposed sanctions against SECTORAL Russia’s energy, banking and defense industries over Moscow’s Involvement in Ukraine’s separatist conflict.
The Officials Declined to specify the mechanisms under tribute and said the timing of any Decision should have called Depend Heavily Developments on the ground in Venezuela.
Possibilities could include a blanket ban in Venezuela, PDVSA Oil Imports and Prevention from trading and doing business in the United States, Which would have a severe impact of PDVSA’s refining subsidiary Citgo, U.S..
A more modest approach, would, however, could be to bar PDVSA bidding only from the U.S. Government Contracts, as the Obama administration did in 2011 to punish the company for doing business with Iran. Those limited sanctions were rolled back after the 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran.
The Venezuelan government and PDVSA did not respond to requests for comment.
U.S. Officials recognize, would, however, That the Venezuelan oil sanctions could exacerbate the suffering of the Venezuelan people without any guarantee of success against Maduro, who accuses Washington and Venezuelan opposition of fomenting an attempted coup.
Given the potential for regional spillover, any oil sanctions would Decision is Require consultation with Venezuela’s neighbors, said the Officials.
“The concern we have is that it will be a very serious escalation,” one official said. “We’d Have to Be prepared to deal with the Humanitarian Consequences of essentially collapsing the government.