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Venezuela's Debt Payments to Russia Have Collapsed

Oil shipments to Russia have all but stopped even as transfers to China continue

Reuters reports that Venezuela's debt repayment to Russia has slowed down to a trickle:

The head of Russian oil company Rosneft (ROSN.MM), Igor Sechin, flew to Caracas this week to meet Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and complain over delayed oil shipments designed to repay loans, two sources briefed on the conversation said on Saturday.

The visit, which was not publicly disclosed, is one of the clearest signs of strain between crisis-stricken Venezuela and its key financier Russia.

Over the last few years, Moscow has become Venezuela’s lender of last resort, with the Russian government and Rosneft handing Venezuela at least $17 billion in loans and credit lines since 2006, according to Reuters calculations.

State oil company PDVSA is repaying almost all of those debts with oil, but a meltdown in its oil industry has left it struggling to fulfill obligations.

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A troubling aspect is that payments to China continue at a greater pace:

“He brought information showing that they were meeting obligations with China but not with them,” said one source with knowledge of the talks.

Sechin handed Maduro graphics about oil shipments to Russian entities compared with China, the two sources said.

Top financier China, which has ploughed more than $50 billion into Venezuela, also gets reimbursed in oil.

According to Reuters calculations based on PDVSA data, the Caracas-based company delivered around 463,500 bpd to Chinese firms between January and August, a roughly 60 percent compliance rate. That compares with around 176,680 bpd to Russian entities, or a 40 percent compliance rate.

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