Tillerson Says U.S. Weighing Sanctions on Venezuelan Oil Sector

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The Trump administration is weighing restrictions on Venezuela’s oil exports and the sale of U.S.-refined petroleum products to the country, but it is wary of the damage that may cause to American companies, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Tillerson said the U.S. raised the possibility of oil sanctions as a way of punishing the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with Argentina officials Sunday and when the secretary of state was in Mexico City on Feb. 2.

Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

Tillerson spoke Sunday at a press conference in Buenos Aires alongside Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie.

“One of the aspects of considering sanctioning oil is what effect would it have on the Venezuelan people, and is it a step that might bring this to an end,” Tillerson said of conditions in the South American country under Maduro. “Because not doing anything to bring this to an end is also asking the Venezuelan people to suffer for a much longer time.”

The fact that Tillerson has raised the possibility of oil restrictions in both stops of his trip so far to Latin America suggested the administration is seriously weighing such an embargo, a step it has so far avoided even as it targets Venezuela’s financial sector and sanctions top officials.

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