| HOUSTON/CARACAS March 31
HOUSTON/CARACAS March 31 Venezuela is
negotiating financial help from Russian oil major Rosneft to
complete nearly $3 billion in PDVSA debt payments coming due to
bondholders next month, two market sources and a government
source familiar with the talks told Reuters on Friday.
Venezuela's leftist government has grown increasingly close
to Russia's Vladimir Putin and Rosneft has become an
important financier and oil player in the OPEC nation with the
world's biggest crude reserves.
The negotiations are happening even as political chaos reins
in Venezuela after its Supreme Court annulled the opposition-led
National Assembly's powers to approve oil joint ventures,
sparking protests and international condemnation.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported PDVSA had offered a
stake in the Petropiar joint venture to Rosneft, as part of what
two sources told Reuters was a wider package of financial help
Venezuela was seeking from Russia.
In recent days, financially-squeezed state oil company PDVSA
has realized it needs help from its Russian
counterpart to be able to meet its hefty April payments, the
"PDVSA is counting on help from Russia for the bond
payments," a Venezuelan government source said on Friday, asking
to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to
It was not immediately clear whether Rosneft would agree to
the deal or what the company might receive in return.
Rosneft, the Venezuelan central bank and PDVSA did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.
Venezuela faces payments of nearly $3 billion in April on
bonds issued by PDVSA. Most of that is due around mid-month as
PDVSA's April 2017 5.25 percent note matures, requiring a
combined interest and principal payment of $2.5 billion.
A separate financial source said Venezuela was negotiating a
$600 million loan that would allow it to have enough cash to pay
bondholders next month, although he did not know with whom the
talks were taking place. He added the central bank hoped to use
bonds as collateral.
Bonds crashed on Friday as political tensions escalated.
President Nicolas Maduro's government has pledged to keep
paying bondholders, bashing default talk as a Wall Street plot
to sabotage his Socialist administration..
But a grueling recession that has millions skipping meals
and low oil prices have worsened PDVSA's financial position in
Caracas-based PDVSA has been particularly squeezed in the
last weeks due to unexpected spending on emergency oil imports
to stem a nationwide gasoline shortage, heightening the need for
"We think that up to 50 percent of financing needs could be
covered by bilateral loans," Oxford Economics said in a note to
clients, mentioning Russia and China, Venezuela's top financier.
(Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Alexandra
Ulmer; editing by Diane Craft)