Bloomberg — Venezuela has awarded a stake in a key oil joint venture to a little-known firm called GazMin International Group almost six months after seizing it from Russian executives, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Gazmin now has a 40% holding in Petrozamora SA, while state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA holds the other 60%, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the decision hasn’t been formally announced.
The minority stake was previously owned by GPB Global Resources, a closely held energy firm founded by former Gazprom PJSC officials, the people said. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government took over Petrozamora in September in the hope of controlling its exports directly, the people said. At the time, GPB called the move an “illegal asset expropriation.”
Gazmin says on its website it’s based in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Some of its partners are Venezuelan nationals, the people said. The UAE’s federal registry shows a firm named GazMin was formed in September 2019, though it’s not clear if that’s the same entity doing business in Venezuela. PDVSA and GPB didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The changes in ownership follow a tumultuous time for the global oil market and Venezuela’s place in it. The country has lost out to cheaper Russian crude in the Chinese market, which in preceding years has been one of the biggest buyers of oil from the South American nation. Russian oil has been sold at a discounted price amid efforts by the US and other Group of Seven nations to curb Moscow’s energy revenues.
That’s not the only recent change for Venezuelan exports. Chevron Corp. is now able to export from the country to the US after the easing of sanctions targeting the Maduro government. Venezuela could soon be sending more oil to the US than Persian Gulf producers Kuwait and Libya combined.
Prior to US sanctions, Petrozamora was one of the most productive oil ventures in Venezuela, with all of its crude going to Europe.
--With assistance from Ben Bartenstein
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