India: Reliance Industries Stops Oil Imports From South American Nation

The biggest private oil refiner in India, Reliance Industries, has ended the purchase of oil from Venezuela. The announcement comes after the giant was pressured by the United States.

In recent months, the United States has hit Venezuela with several sanctions and has warned other countries and businesses from doing business with the nation. The company told AFP that it had also ended the export of diluents to Venezuela.

The company announced just hours ago that Reliance had stopped supply of diluent to oil company PDVSA and will not resume that until the sanctions from the US are lifted. The oil refiner is owned by India’s wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani.

Recent sanctions on Venezuela have forced Maduro and his party to look for other buyers. India became one of them but the move later brought pressure from the US, which has threatened to sanction the companies that do business with Maduro and their officials.

Venezuela’s economic and political crisis continues to get worse. The IMF estimates that the country will see a ten million percent inflation this year. The country currently has Guaido and Maduro in a battle for power. Guaido, who stepped in as interim president in late January, has the support of many countries, including the US and Canada. Maduro has the support of a few countries and says he is the legitimate president of Venezuela.

India became one of the top oil importers after US President Donald Trump hit the South American country with a ban last month. The ban forced Maduro to come up with other ways to bring cash into the country but the pressure by the US has convinced India to stay away.

The announcement also comes after the US Treasury sanctioned a Russian bank over links to Venezuela’s oil company. On Tuesday, Pompeo asked India to stop purchasing oil from the South American nation. The request was made to stop them from providing an economic lifeline to Maduro. On Wednesday, India warned its oil companies that they would face consequences if they continued the purchases with the country.

The announcement specifically mentions that they will not purchase oil from the country until the sanctions from the US are lifted. This is something that will likely not happen in the near future as Maduro continues to hold on to power. A lift in the sanctions from the US would likely come after there is a change in power.

Back in January, the US also warned Turkey over its gold purchases from the South American nation. The warning came after reports revealed that Venezuela had increased the sale of gold to battle the sanctions against its oil industry.

Mr. Guaido and the opposition plan to hold a presidential election but with a new electoral council, which has been accused of being bias towards the PSUV party. Maduro recently challenged Guaido to a presidential election but the opposition plans to have a new electoral council to avoid the questionable results that the country has seen in recent years. Maduro is not recognized as president of Venezuela by many countries after he held an election last year. The election, which was moved up, was boycotted by the opposition and the numbers for Maduro were much higher than what the estimates said.