April 11, 2019 / 10:07 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Washington to decide on Repsol's Venezuela activity - U.S. envoy

(Adds background on Trafigura ending PDVSA agreement)

By Isla Binnie

MADRID, April 11 (Reuters) - The United States will make a decision about Spanish oil company Repsol’s activity in Venezuela in coming days, U.S. Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams said on Thursday.

Since the United States imposed fresh sanctions on Venezuela and its state-run oil firm PDVSA in January, the country’s main oil and oil products suppliers have been Repsol, Russian state oil major Rosneft, India’s Reliance Industries and trading houses Vitol and Trafigura, according to sources and vessel-tracking data..

Repsol has said it fully complies with all legislation and sanctions regarding Venezuela and closely monitors the situation on a cargo-by-cargo basis.

Asked whether he had talked about Repsol’s Venezuelan business during a visit to Portugal and Spain, Abrams said Spanish officials had raised the issue.

“This is a case that Repsol itself has raised in Washington and its under very active discussion right now in Washington as well as here,” Abrams said.

“I think there will be decisions made in Washington in the coming days about this,” he added, although he declined to discuss the nature of any decision.

Trafigura decided to end its crude-for-product swap agreement with PDVSA in mid-February, meaning only a small number of already-concluded trades would go through.

The White House is conducting a campaign to dislodge Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power and has backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Abrams said further sanctions by Europe against Maduro’s government had been discussed during his visit but that any decision needed to be made by the European Union.

“We will impose the sanctions we think are called for,” Abrams said, adding that the EU had already taken some action of its own.

“That is an EU decision and we hope it is a subject of discussion in the EU,” he said.

Since November 2017, the EU has embargoed exports to Venezuela of weapons and equipment for internal repression, as well as putting in place a travel ban and an asset freeze on 18 officials accused of violating rights and undermining democracy.

Brussels has said Europe is considering further sanctions if Venezuela did not take steps toward a fair democratic process. (Reporting by Isla Binnie; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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