Could Russia gain control of the familiar Citgo gas stations, its 48 oil terminals —including one in Linden — three refineries, and several pipelines? It doesn’t sound like the unlikely plot of an international thriller to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). In fact, he believes Russia’s waging geopolitical war, using corporations like Citgo as weapons.
Here’s the backstory: Last November, Russia’s state-owned oil company — Rosneft — loaned $1.5 billion to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Venezuela owns Citgo, and put about half the company up as collateral for the Russian loan. If Venezuela defaults — which looks likely, according to U.S. bond rating experts — Rosneft could get Citgo.
“We cannot give Putin any opening to affect the flow of oil, or toy with American prices at the pump. And we cannot play Russian roulette with America’s energy infrastructure,” Menendez said.
Menendez urged the White House to leave Obama administration sanctions — which forbid Rosneft from gaining U.S. assets in force. He also joined five other senators in a bipartisan letter asking a special committee on foreign investment to deny any acquisition of Citgo by Russia.
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