US Congressman urges Obama to block Venezuela's Citgo sale

MIAMI – US congressman urged the US President Obama administration on Wednesday to block the proposed sale by Venezuela's state oil company of its North American refining unit Citgo, saying it would be against vital national interests.

Venezuela Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said earlier this month that the country aims to exit Citgo as soon as we receive a proposal that serves our interests. Citgo has three US refineries in Illinois, Louisiana and Texas with combined capacity of some 750,000 barrels per day, and it also has 48 terminals.

Flanked by Venezuelan opposition figures, US Representative Joe Garcia said the proposed sale by Venezuela's socialist-led government was a huge concern. He said that the value of Citgo was derived from the refiner's links to Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA and the OPEC nation's crude oil reserves, which are the biggest in the world.

“It is one of the last assets that the Venezuelans have had and have not been able to damage its value,” the Democratic congressman told a news conference in Miami.

China displaced the United States as the top destination for Venezuelan oil in 2013, and PDVSA's cash flow has been crimped as much of the oil is used to service loans from Beijing.

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