PDVSA also ordered its Petrocedeno joint venture with Equinor and Total to halt extra-heavy oil output and upgrading due to a lack of naphtha needed to dilute production, as sanctions prohibited US suppliers of the fuel from exporting it to Venezuela.
Venezuela's oil production has dwindled in the last two decades, from more than 3 million barrels per day (bpd) at the beginning of the century to between 1.2 million and 1.4 million bpd by late 2018.
India is set to emerge as Venezuela's preferred customer due to the nation's willingness to pay for crude in cash, as opposed to sales to China that are supplied via oil-for-loans agreements, according to Sushant Gupta, director of Asia-Pacific refining at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Venezuela, which now holds the OPEC presidency, has a "healthy relationship" with the Asian country, he said at the Petrotech conference near New Delhi, where he originally wasn't on the list of attendees.
"We would like to make formal your knowledge of new banking instructions to make payments in USA dollars or euros", wrote PDVSA's finance vice president, Fernando De Quintal, in a letter dated February 8 to the PDVSA unit that supervises its joint ventures.
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Unilateral sanctions by the United States have reduced PDVSA's oil output and caused a loss of about $20 billion to its oil revenue-dependent economy, he said. It is financial persecution.
Citgo Petroleum Corp is a unit of PDVSA and Venezuela's top foreign asset. "Now they want to steal Citgo Petroleum from Venezuela", Quevedo said, confirming Venezuela's efforts to remove the two US executives from the board. Citgo operates three USA refineries that supply about 4 percent of total United States fuel production, and it is PDVSA's largest US customer for its oil exports.
"Our country hopes to receive the solidarity and full support of the member countries of OPEC and its ministerial Conference, in the fight we are now having against the illegal and arbitrary intrusion of the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela".
The Socialist leader's argument in seeking support from OPEC is that the sanctions would have impact on the global oil market and prices and that they represent a risk to other members of the cartel.