Trading arm of Russia's Lukoil stops swap operations in Venezuela

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Lukoil’s trading arm Litasco has stopped carrying out swap operations with Venezuela since U.S. sanctions were imposed on the Latin American country’s state oil company in January, Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov said on Thursday.

The United States imposed tough financial sanctions on Jan. 28 aimed at blocking Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s access to the country’s oil revenue.

Russia is a close ally of Caracas and its oil companies’ operations in Venezuela have come into focus as the country has been plunged into political turmoil and Washington hit state oil company PDVSA with sanctions.

“Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and sell oil, and there were swap operations. Today there are none,” Alekperov said at a conference in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

He added that the operations were stopped immediately once the sanctions were imposed.

However, Russia’s Gazprom Neft does not see major risks for its operations in Venezuela, Chief Executive Alexander Dyukov said at the Sochi conference.

He said his company has not and does not supply Venezuela with oil products needed to dilute PDVSA oil. He added Venezuela had not approached Gazprom Neft to supply PDVSA with oil products.

Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Polina Nikolskaya; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Susan Fenton and David Evans