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LISBON, March 14 (Reuters) - Maritime contractor Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) is considering to stop managing Venezuelan state-oil company PDVSA’s tankers by the end of this month or in April following U.S. sanctions against the country, BSM said on Thursday.
It also said in a statement that recent political developments made managing assets for the Venezuelan government “an almost impossible task”, and it was working on returning Venezuelan vessels to PDVSA’s maritime arm PDV Marina and its subsidiaries.
The German firm, which operates a fleet of 15 PDVSA vessels and has worked in the Latin American country for almost 25 years, said returning tankers to PDV Marina has proven to be “a difficult task considering the lack of resources” in Venezuela.
“Nevertheless, our intention is to try and hand back all the vessels to PDV Marina and its subsidiaries as soon as practically possible,” it added.
Venezuela is engulfed in an economic crisis and President Nicolas Maduro’s administration has been under sanctions since late January as the United States and dozens of other nations have recognised his rival, Congress chief Juan Guaido, as the nation’s leader.
Last Tuesday PDV Marina declared an emergency due to lack of staff to immediately receive the vessels that BSM proposed to return to Venezuelan ports due to unpaid bills of at least $15 million.
At least 10 vessels had BSM crews onboard last Thursday, according to a company source. In addition, two other vessels operated by BSM for PDVSA remain anchored in Portugal without the crews, and one in Curacao. (Reporting By Catarina Demony, Editing by Andrei Khalip and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)