PDVSA Sanctions Threat Could Curb Tanker Upside
International Trade Partner Jonathan Epstein was quoted by Lloyd's List on the PDVSA sanctions and how it can affect tanker pools. The sanction states that owners meeting the definition of a 'U.S. person' will be effectively barred from providing vessels to carry exports of PDVSA crude oil to Asia or imports of petroleum products to Venezuela. The number of tanker owners that qualify as a U.S. person is limited, but Mr. Epstein and others mentioned believe that foreign owners will most likely comply with this sanction if they deal with Americans.
Other hurdles for foreign owners will include the involvement of U.S.- based insurers or other service providers as U.S. participants will not risk a sanctions violation by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) if the company does business with PDVSA. As well as non-U.S. banks might not be willing to participate in a PDVSA-linked transaction despite the U.S. sanctions compliance.
"Even if you can say it’s a lawful transaction, it’s entirely possible that as a practical matter, major banks will say ‘we’re just not going to handle this transaction’," said Mr. Epstein.
Mr. Epstein also stated that, "Because PDVSA is now an SDN [a specially designated national and blocked person under OFAC rules], it wouldn’t surprise me if major non-US banks ceased processing PDVSA transactions for de-risking reasons."