U.S. could ban imports of Venezuelan crude oil

The U.S. administration is considering choking off Venezuela's last remaining and rapidly dwindling source of income:...

Posted: Feb 5, 2018 2:20 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2018 2:20 PM

The U.S. administration is considering choking off Venezuela's last remaining and rapidly dwindling source of income: crude oil exports.

Speaking in Argentina, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was discussing how to raise the pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to restore his country's constitution and hold free and fair elections.

"Obviously sanctioning the oil, or in effect prohibiting the oil to be sold in the United States... is something we continue to consider," he told reporters on Sunday.

Banning exports of oil or refined oil products to Venezuela was also on the table, Tillerson added.

Oil sanctions are one of the few options President Trump has to really hurt Maduro.

Venezuelan production has been falling fast since 2014, but the country still pumped 1.7 million barrels a day in December, according to industry estimates.

Exports to the U.S. averaged more than 600,000 barrels a day between January and November last year, data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency shows.

Related: EU heaps sanctions on Venezuela as isolation grows

The decline in oil production is already deepening the misery for 30 million Venezuelans suffering from food shortages and a lack of basic medicines. Sanctioning oil exports could make matters much worse.

"The situation is becoming quite dire in Venezuela," said Tillerson, who added that the administration was weighing the effect of sanctions on the Venezuelan people -- and whether they would quickly produce the desired result.

"Because not doing anything to bring this to an end is also asking the Venezuelan people to suffer for a much longer time," he said.

Related: Trump's tough call about Venezuela and oil

It's also a complex business equation. The U.S. sends light crude oil to Venezuela, which has heavy crude. The two get mixed together in Venezuela and shipped back to the United States.

Banning cheap imports from Venezuela would force U.S. refineries to buy elsewhere, and that could push up gas prices.

"We're looking at how to mitigate... the impacts on U.S. business interests," said Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil.

Analysts say U.S. oil sanctions could completely cripple the Venezuelan economy.

-- Patrick Gillespie and Claudia Dominguez contributed to this article.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
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Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
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Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
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Copiah324968
Simpson322891
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Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 587405

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson853851591
Mobile48932864
Madison37517533
Shelby27280257
Tuscaloosa27171465
Montgomery26172627
Baldwin25399329
Lee17224181
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Houston12077293
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Cullman10546205
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Walker7793288
Autauga7563114
Jackson7400117
Blount7362139
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Russell480243
Chilton4771117
Covington4749125
Franklin458181
Tallapoosa4519156
Escambia441383
Chambers3949125
Dallas3743163
Clarke371263
Marion3463107
Pike332579
Lawrence3263100
Winston298773
Bibb290465
Geneva283983
Marengo262467
Barbour250961
Pickens245562
Butler240872
Hale235578
Fayette227065
Henry213945
Monroe202141
Randolph201144
Cherokee199248
Washington185239
Macon170552
Crenshaw168358
Clay166259
Cleburne161345
Lamar151038
Lowndes145455
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh121332
Coosa118329
Perry110528
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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