Rosneft stock slumped nearly five percent during Friday trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange after reports claimed that the US wants to slap the Russian oil giant with new sanctions over its cooperation with Venezuela.
As of 2:49pm Moscow time (11:49am GMT) Rosneft shares were trading at 453.5 rubles (US$7.1) per share, down 4.65 percent from the previous session.
The drop came less than two days after the Trump administration announced that it was going to ramp up pressure against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his government. As the self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, came to the US earlier this week, a White House official told reporters that Washington does not exclude any option when it comes to “creating pressure,” including sanctions, on Russian entities “that are supporting Maduro.”
“We are indeed concerned about the behavior of Rosneft in Venezuela; how we approach that is a question of internal deliberation which, obviously, I can’t address,” the official said. He also warned other energy companies, including India’s Reliance, Spain’s Repsol, and America’s Chevron, against supporting “the Maduro dictatorship” with their activities in Venezuela.
The Russian state oil company has not made an official statement on the potential sanctions yet.
The threats add nothing new to the usual Washington rhetoric, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday as he hit out at US plans to introduce new sanctions. “We are used to it,” he said.
It is not the first time the Trump administration has expressed plans to target the Russian company with sanctions over its activities in Venezuela. In September, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said that the oil major “makes a lot of money in Venezuela” and warned that retaliatory measures could be applied at some point.
Rosneft fired back the same day, accusing the US of attempting to create unfair competition and attain an advantage in the oil market. The company said that it has been investing in the Venezuelan oil and gas sectors long before the US sanctions emerged and now it wants to offset the investment, including with crude shipments from the country.