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US Crude Oil Could Rise On Venezuelan Sanctions

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US Crude Oil Could Rise On Venezuelan Sanctions
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After OPEC's agreement to extend crude oil production cuts throughout 2018, oil prices may soon get yet another boost if the U.S. applies sanctions on Venezuela in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s calls for a snap election.

The U.S. will likely seek to delay the Venezuelan election, which is currently scheduled for April 22, and a ban on Venezuelan crude oil is the most likely course of action, Height Securities analyst Clayton Allen said in a Friday note. 

“We assign slightly greater odds to a ban on U.S. import of Venezuelan crude than other options such as a ban on export of U.S. light crude for use in Venezuelan blending, but we see a possibility that this second option may emerge as a favorite as concerns grow over the impact of a ban on the Venezuelan populace,” Allen said.

A ban on U.S. crude imports would also further strain the Venezuelan economy, which is already in the midst of a crisis, the analyst said. 

“Such action could also hinder Venezuela’s efforts to make even marginal payments on its outstanding debts, which to this point have staved off asset seizures by creditors." 

WTI crude oil prices were trading higher by 0.9 percent to above $63/bbl on Friday in the wake of a shutdown of the El Feel oilfield in Libya, which typically produces about 70,000 barrels of crude per day.

The United States Oil Fund LP (ETF) (NYSE: USO) is now up 6.4 percent year-to-date and more than 30 percent in the past six months.

Venezuelan oil sanctions could be bad news for Gulf Coast refiners such as Citgo Petroleum and Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE: VLO), Allen said. 

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Latest Ratings for VLO

DateFirmActionFromTo
Nov 2018CitigroupMaintainsBuyBuy
Nov 2018Credit SuisseUpgradesNeutralOutperform
Oct 2018Morgan StanleyMaintainsOverweightOverweight

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