US allows Spanish, Italian firms to import Venezuelan oil to cut Russia dependency

The United States has issued waivers to Spanish and Italian oil companies to receive Venezuelan crude in an attempt to reduce their heavy reliance on Russian energy.

Media reports on Sunday said the US State Department issued waivers to Spain’s Repsol SA and Italy’s Eni SpA to begin taking Venezuelan oil to Europe.

Venezuela owes both companies money for work that was left incomplete due to US sanctions imposed on Caracas.

The two oil companies, which were forced by the US to stop their oil-for-debt deals in mid-2020, will now resume their operations as soon as next month, according to reports.

Last month, the US State Department had secretly sent letters to both Repsol and Eni saying Washington would “not object” if the oil companies resumed oil-for-debt deals and brought the crude to Europe where countries are facing rising energy prices.

Washington’s waiver to the two European countries to resume Venezuela’s oil flow is being seen as a victory for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela has been the subject of a US-led economic war of boycotts and blockades aimed at toppling Maduro’s democratically-elected government.

The Latin American country’s oil production fell below one million bpd after former US President Donald Trump blocked Venezuela’s oil in January 2019.

It comes as the raging conflict in Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on world economies, particularly in Europe, creating an energy crisis of unprecedented levels.

Washington’s European allies continue to ramp up pressure on Russia in the form of sanctions as well as through the supply of military aid to Ukraine, despite repeated warnings from Moscow.

European countries are heavily dependent on Russian energy and they have failed to heed US calls, urging for an embargo on Russian oil and gas.

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