The US government is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s energy sector, an essential element of the economy that includes huge offshore oil interests, according to Reuters.
A major target of the economic restrictions would be directed at state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), which manages the world’s biggest oil resources and which has been mired in corruption and fraud charges for some time.
Venezuela relies on oil for about 95% of export revenues.
President Donald Trump and his administration are looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on the leftist government in Caracas which has been cracking down on widespread demonstrations as the economy teeters.
The South American country’s President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of human rights abuses in the handling of the protests.
A White House official said “all options are on the table” for US action.
At the most extreme they could entail a blanket ban on Venezuelan oil imports and preventing PDVSA from trading and doing business in the US.
Less extreme measures could include barring PDVSA from bidding on US government contracts.
PDVSA has already been struggling with the consequences of the oil-price slump.