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Venezuelan coal exports rise as U.S. escalates oil sanctions By Reuters

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© Reuters.

By Luc Cohen

(Reuters) – Venezuela is ramping up its production and export of coal to European nations, according to export figures and vessel tracking data, as it seeks new sources of foreign currency amid tightening U.S. sanctions aimed at topping President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela’s coal exports tripled to 310,000 tonnes last year, generating nearly $40 million, after Washington imposed sanctions in January 2019 on state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), according to figures from the U.N. trade database Comtrade.

This year, exports are on track to exceed that, with shipments of 365,000 tonnes through June generating $37 million, according to the data.

The rising exports show how the OPEC nation has found new sources of overseas earnings following U.S. sanctions on its vital oil and gold industries in the past two years, adapting to restrictions as they arise.

Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, has likened sanctions enforcement to “whack-a-mole.”

The U.S. Treasury Department, which enforces sanctions, referred Reuters to the State Department, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Neither Venezuela’s information ministry nor state-owned coal company Carbozulia responded to requests for comment about the increase in shipments or its customers.

While the rising coal exports do not come close to covering billions of dollars in lost oil revenues, even modest sources of foreign exchange – such as coal or cocoa exports – are a boon to Maduro’s bid to hold onto power.

Venezuela’s central bank received just $477 million in hard currency so far in 2020, down from $40 billion in 2014.

Britain – which does not recognize Maduro’s government and has placed financial sanctions on dozens of Venezuelan politicians and military officers – was one of the main destinations for coal exports.

It received 23.6 million pounds ($30.83 million) in imports of Venezuelan coal through July 2020, up from 13.2 million pounds in 2019 and none in 2018, according to its Office of National Statistics.

The U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office told Reuters to seek comment from the Department for International Trade, which did not respond to a request for comment.

One cargo that left Maracaibo port in western Venezuela in mid-March destined for Belfast was purchased by Lissan Coal Company, a unit of LCC Group, according to a Venezuelan port document seen by Reuters.

LCC Group – based in Cookstown, Northern Ireland – did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment. Britain’s foreign office did not respond to a request for comment.

While U.S. sanctions do not explicitly mention coal, they do threaten to sanction any company deemed to have “materially assisted” the government.

Peter Harrell, a sanctions expert at the State Department under Democratic former President Barack Obama, said that likely gives the U.S. government the legal authority to expand sanctions to Venezuela’s coal sector, but it was unlikely to sanction European buyers without warning.

“It would be highly unusual for the U.S. government to sanction a company trading Venezuelan coal without first specifically sanctioning the state-owned enterprise coal exporter,” Harrell said.

LINKS TO SANCTIONED BUSINESSMAN

Venezuela’s annual coal production boomed from less than 100,000 tonnes in 1988 to 8 million tonnes in the mid-2000s, making it Latin America’s third-largest coal producer behind Colombia and Brazil, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Output declined after Venezuela’s ruling socialist party boosted the state’s role in the industry, and by 2017 the country produced just 170,000 tonnes of coal, according to the mining ministry.

The jump in exports came after Venezuela’s state-owned coal company Carbozulia formed a joint venture with a Turkish company, Glenmore Proje Insaat, in 2018 – one of several strategic alliances made with foreign companies in a bid to boost mining output.

The joint venture, Carboturven, has a 20-year license to mine coal in the western state of Zulia.

One person familiar with the Paso Diablo mine’s operations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said production had improved since the joint venture was formed.

Glenmore – which has since changed its name to Glenmore Dis Ticaret Ve Madencilikis – is wholly-owned by a British company, according to a review of Turkish and British corporate records

The British firm, London-based Glenmore Solutions Limited, has come under scrutiny by Italian authorities as part of their money laundering probe into Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman close to Maduro, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

At issue is whether Saab used a number of overseas companies that he created to hide the origin of his money, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and did not provide further details because the investigation is ongoing.

Lawyers for Saab, who is detained in Cabo Verde fighting a U.S. extradition attempt on charges including money laundering, declined to comment. Saab calls the U.S. charges against him politically motivated.

Neither Glenmore Dis Ticaret Ve Madencilikis nor Glenmore Solutions responded to letters seeking comment.





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Oil Down 3% on Week on U.S. Rig Climb, Libya Supply Prospects By Investing.com

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© Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com – U.S. crude draw numbers aren’t helping oil prices as investors zero in on the climbing rig count and prospects of Libyan supplies returning in a big way.

Both West Texas Intermediate, the key indicator for crude prices in the United States, and Brent, the global benchmark for oil, fell about 3% on the week after the rose to 211 from last week’s level of 205. 

Oil rigs, an indicator of future production, have steadily climbed since the week ended Sept 4, when they stood at 180.

Adding to the weight on the market were estimates that Libyan oil output, mostly offline since January, had risen to 500,000 barrels per day and will likely grow further by end-October.

“Low sales and bad margins tells me that crude buying could disappear in the U.S. until Q1,” said Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at ICAP (LON:) in Durham, North Carolina.

New York-traded settled at $39.85 per barrel, down 79 cents, or 1.9%. For the week, WTI fell 2.5%.

London-traded settled at $41.77, down $1.16, or 2.7%.

fell 1 million barrels for the week ended Oct. 18, falling largely within the expected draw of 1.02 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information announced on Wednesday.

Crude stored at , Oklahoma, delivery point for contracted barrels of WTI also rose within expectations, climbing by 975,000 barrels versus the forecast 1.1 million barrels.

But jumped by 1.9 millions barrels — an 180-degree build over analysts’ estimates.

The EIA did deliver a positive number on , which drew down by 3.8 million barrels, or double expectations. This was ostensibly due to the strong delivery-and-trucking activity as many people remained cloistered in their homes ordering everything from clothing to groceries. 

But the agency also surprised traders by estimating that U.S. crude production fell by 9.9 million barrels per day last week, down 600,000 bpd from the previous week. 

The drop in production jarred with the rise in oil rigs logged since mid-September, leading some to think the impact on output from this month’s Hurricane Delta had been overestimated. Delta, which struck Louisiana as a Category 2 storm, shuttered nearly 92% of all oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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China’s purchases of U.S. farm goods at 71% of target under trade deal: U.S. By Reuters

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© Reuters. Senate Finance Committee hearing on U.S. trade on Capitol Hill in Washington

2/2

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China has substantially increased purchases of U.S. farm goods and implemented 50 of 57 technical commitments aimed at lowering structural barriers to U.S. imports since the two nations signed a trade deal in January, the U.S. government said on Friday.

In a joint statement, the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said China had bought over $23 billion in U.S. agricultural goods to date, or about 71% of the target set under the so-called Phase 1 deal.

“Since the Agreement entered into force eight months ago, we have seen remarkable improvements in our agricultural trade relationship with China, which will benefit our farmers and ranchers for years to come,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

The deal defused a bitter trade war between the world’s two largest economies, but disputes over human rights, the COVID-19 crisis and technology have strained ties between Washington and Beijing, raising doubts about the prospects for deepening the agreement in a second phase.

Agriculture is one of the four areas where China pledged to increase its purchases of U.S. goods and services. Many experts question whether China will meet its overall targets this year given lockdowns imposed earlier this year to contain the virus.

The report showed outstanding sales of U.S. corn to China were at an all-time high of 8.7 million tons, while U.S. soybeans sales for marketing year 2021 to China were at double the levels seen in 2017.

U.S. exports of sorghum to China from January to August 2020 totaled $617 million, up from $561 million for the same period in 2017, it said.

U.S. pork exports to China hit an all-time record in just the first five months of 2020, and U.S. beef and beef products exports to China through August 2020 are already more than triple the total for 2017, it said.

In addition to these products, USDA expects 2020 sales to China to hit record or near-record levels for other U.S. agricultural products including pet food, alfalfa hay, pecans, peanuts, and prepared foods.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Democrats in U.S. drilling states push back against Biden oil remarks By Reuters

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© Reuters. Final 2020 U.S. presidential campaign debate in Nashville

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – Democratic candidates in oil drilling states were quick to distance themselves on Friday from comments by their party’s presidential candidate, Joe Biden, that indicated he would move the United States away from a reliance on oil.

From Texas to Montana, Democrats locked in tight congressional races in Nov. 3’s general election took to Twitter to affirm their support for the fossil fuel industries and workers in their states.

“I’ll always stand up to my party when it’s out of touch with our Montana way of life,” Governor Steve Bullock, who is running for U.S. Senate, tweeted on Friday.

President Donald Trump, who trails Biden in national opinion polls, accused his rival in their final presidential debate on Thursday of planning to destroy the oil industry, leading the former vice president to respond that he did believe the country should eventually replace oil with solar, wind and other forms of non-polluting power.

“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden said.

“He is going to destroy the oil industry,” Trump said. “Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio?”

After the debate, Biden told reporters he was referring to a plan to stop subsidizing fossil fuels: “… they’re not going to lose their jobs. Besides, a lot more jobs are going to be created in other alternatives.”

Trump’s campaign seized on Biden’s remarks, promoting a new advertisement on Friday that said thousands of drilling jobs were at stake in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

“I disagree with VP Biden’s statement tonight,” Democratic Representative Xochitl Torres Small, whose district includes portions of New Mexico’s oil-rich Permian basin, tweeted after the debate, saying the country should not “demonize a single industry.”

Polls show Torres Small in a tight race against Republican opponent Yvette Herrell, who she narrowly unseated in 2018.

Torres Small said she was willing to break with her party on the issue, a sentiment echoed by Bullock, who briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination himself, and U.S. Representative Kendra Horn of Oklahoma.

U.S. Representative Lizzie Fletcher, a Democrat running for re-election in Houston, the capital of the U.S. oil industry, said in a statement that Biden’s comments “fail to address the complexity of our energy needs and plan for our future.”

Biden says his $2 trillion plan to combat climate change through investment in clean energy will create millions of jobs, a stark contrast to Trump administration policies that promote fossil fuel development and play down the threat of climate change.

Nationally, Biden’s plan enjoys the support of two-thirds of voters, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll this month. But in states where the oil industry is a major employer, many voters are skeptical of a move away from fossil fuels.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said Trump was blowing her running mate’s comments out of proportion.

“The president likes to put everything out of context,” the California senator said at a campaign stop in Atlanta.





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