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India approaches US over ONGC taking Venezuelan oil: CEO

Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela assigned oil cargoes to ONGC for debt payment. But any transfer would require US approval. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

ONGC, India’s second-largest oil and gas company, on Sunday (6) confirmed talks between India and the US state department are underway to allow its overseas arm to settle past debts by trading Venezuelan oil cargoes.

ONGC Videsh CEO AK Gupta said in Houston ahead of the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference that “it’s only logical” for an agreement because the proposal would not provide payment to the US-sanctioned Venezuela’s government.

Oil cargoes were assigned by Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to ONGC Videsh and France’s Maurel & Prom, a partner in another Venezuelan joint venture, for debt payment. Any transfer would require US approval.

Talks on the proposed oil-for-debt exchange are being handled by the US department of state and India’s US embassy, CEO Gupta said.

ONGC Videsh, the international arm of ONGC, is owed some $420 million (£318.92m) from its Venezuelan joint ventures that was incurred before US sanctions.

“It is logical from the companies’ viewpoint since it’s not tantamount to any investments” in Venezuela, said Gupta. The US has sought to prevent cash flowing to the Venezuelan government with its sanctions.

The requests by ONGC and Maurel & Prom are under consideration, a person in Washington familiar with the authorization said earlier, but no decision has been made and there is no timetable for doing so.

(REUTERS)

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