New Delhi: At the request of the United States, private Indian companies have stopped importing oil from Venezuela after the Trump administration imposed further sanctions on the recession-stricken country earlier this month, a top US official has said. The statement comes as the US plans to pile more pressure on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, who is struggling to maintain a stranglehold on power amid severe domestic and international pressure.
While India has historically been the second-largest cash-paying customer for Venezuela's crude, the country's market has been vital for the Latin American nation's economy.
The senior Trump administration official said: "My understanding is that Indian private companies, who were importing Venezuelan oil, have stopped. The Indians have been cooperative in communicating with the private companies."
"We value our relationship with India and the strategic partnership," the official said.
Despite US sanctions on Venezuela, Reliance Industries is supplying fuels to the Latin American country from India and Europe, says trading sources and Reuters' Refinitiv Eikon data. The Indian conglomerate had been supplying diluent naphtha, alkylate and other fuels to the country via its US-based subsidiary prior to the imposition of sanctions by the Trump administration in January.
In recent weeks, the company chartered three vessels at least to supply refined products to Venezuela, while another vessel carrying gasoil is expected to be supplied, as per sources and data.
"Reliance is and will remain in compliance with the sanctions and shall work with the concerned authorities, said a Reliance spokesman, who added that the "volume of products supplied to and crude oil imported from Venezuela have not increased."