Venezuela is willing to accept oil payments from India in rupees, its envoy to New Delhi said today, suggesting that doing so will help both the countries to bypass the sanctions imposed by the United States.
Augusto Montiel said the US sanctions have hit oil production in Venezuela and criticised Washington for "interfering" in its domestic affairs.
Venezuela wants India to buy its oil and pay in rupees, which the South American country can in turn use for trading India food products and medicines.
It has a similar arrangement with Turkey, China and Russia. A proposal to start payments in rupees was discussed with India's finance and petroleum ministries in March.
"India and Venezuela are trying to find ways to bypass the sanctions," Montiel said at an interaction with journalists at the Press Club in New Delhi.
He claimed that a shipment carrying Indian medicines and food in 160 containers was confiscated at the Cartagena port in Colombia at the "behest" of the US, ahead of the presidential polls in Venezuela held on May 20.
Incumbent president Nicolas Maduro won the polls. A day after the results were declared, the US imposed fresh sanctions, which Venezuela has called "illegal".
"Oil production in Venezuela has been hit due to the sanctions. There are oilfields whose production is directly affected due to the sanctions," Montiel told reporters at a programme at the Press Club in New Delhi.
He said overall oil supply to India has also dipped from 4,00,000 barrels a day in 2016 to 2,80,000 barrels in 2018.
Asked whether the decrease in Venezuelan crude supply to India was due to the sanctions, he said he did not have information whether wells supplying oil to New Delhi had been hit too.
Venezuela is a major oil producing nation and is also an important crude oil supplier to India.
In March, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said his country wants India to buy its oil in Indian currency.