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49562Sinopec sues as China loses patience with Venezuela

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  • Ada Klein
    6 dic 16:45


      Sinopec sues as China loses patience with Venezuela

      Legal action points to Beijing and Caracas rift over unpaid debts
      https://www.ft.com/content/d627460a-da8e-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b482

      12/6/2017

      Inline image 1
      A worker opens a valve at an oil upgrader run by Petropiar,

      a joint venture between Venezuelan state owned PDVSA

      and the US company Chevron. ©

       

      Jonathan Wheatley in London 5 hours ago

       

      One of China’s biggest state-owned oil companies is suing its Venezuelan

      counterpart in a US court, in a sign that Beijing’s patience over unpaid debts

      is running out as the Caribbean nation falls deeper into economic and social

      chaos.

       

      A US subsidiary of Sinopec is suing PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil

      company, for $23.7m plus punitive damages over a May 2012 contract to

      supply steel rebar for $43.5m, half of which it says remains unpaid, according

      to court documents seen by the Financial Times.

       

      The amount at dispute is small but it reveals a breakdown in relations of a

      far greater order. Sinopec agreed in September 2013 to invest $14bn in a

      Venezuelan oilfield, according to Rafael Ramírez, Venezuela’s oil minister

      at the time.

      It formed part of Chinese investments and loans that added up to more than

      $62bn in the oil-rich nation between 2007 and 2016, according to the China-

      Latin America Finance Database run by the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-

      tank. But Caracas has struggled to repay its debts as the oil price has fallen

      from its 2014 peak and as production at PDVSA has dwindled.

       

      The language of Sinopec’s complaint, filed on November 27 at a US district

      court in Houston, Texas, reveals how badly relationships have soured.

       

      Sinopec accuses PDVSA of using “an undercapitalized shell with the sole

      purpose of preventing Sinopec from having a remedy” and says its conduct

      “constituted intentional misrepresentations, deceit, and concealment of

      material facts” involving “wilful deception” and a co-ordinated conspiracy

      among several units of PDVSA.

       

       “This is when we know that China is not going to bail these guys out,” said

      Russ Dallen of boutique investment bank Caracas Capital, who follows

      Venezuela closely and who first revealed the court documents to his clients.

       

      Sinopec’s lawyers declined to comment. PDVSA could not be reached.

       

      PDVSA and the government in Caracas have been declared in default multiple

      times by rating agencies since the middle of last month after they began

      missing payments on their international bonds.

       

      Mr Dallen said Sinopec’s suit added to evidence suggesting China was no

      longer willing to extend credit to Venezuela, and that its change of attitude

      had tipped Caracas and PDVSA into default.

       

      Last year, Beijing agreed to re-negotiate its loans to Venezuela, helping it

      to keep up payments to bondholders. This has been a top priority for Caracas,

      as it feared the chaos caused by default would bring the government down.

       

      But it has struggled to keep up its repayments to Beijing, which it makes in

      the form of oil. PDVSA’s financial statements show that it shipped an average

      of 505,000 barrels of oil a day to China last year, for a total value of $5.8bn.

      This was down from $8.3bn in 2015 and $14.4bn in 2014.

       

      Analysts say these values are exaggerated as they price the oil before the
      discount China has negotiated, believed to be about 35 per cent on the value

      reported by PDVSA.

       

       “China has stopped rolling over Venezuela’s debts,” said Mr Dallen. “They

      have lost faith.

       

      ” The only remaining external creditor apparently willing to support Caracas

      is Russia. Last month, just as Caracas was declaring default, it agreed to

      restructure $3.15bn of Venezuelan debt. In a further sign of Russia’s

      involvement, Mr Dallen said one of his clients had received a bond payment

       through a Russian bank.