Venezuela's finance minister Rodolfo Marco Torres. Image courtesy of SiBCI.

Venezuela has suspended its plan to sell off $10 billion in U.S. refining assets held by Citgo as strong North American crude output slashes refining profit margins.

The country’s finance minister Rodolfo Marco Torres said the country will continue to invest in Citgo, Venezuelan newspaper El Universal said.

The official reason behind the sale’s suspension has not been disclosed.

Houston-based Citgo is the American refining, transporting and marketing arm of PDVSA.

The sale was announced on July 29. Louisiana-based investment bank Lazard had been tapped to handle the sale.

No official bids for Citgo’s assets were ever announced.

News of the sale had triggered political backlash in the United States.

In September, Florida congressman Joe Garcia said President Obama should stop the sale because it would be against “vital national interests” and revenues would be used for “nefarious objectives.”

Citgo has U.S. three refineries with a combined capacity of about 750,000 barrels per day. It also owns 48 oil terminals and operates 6,000 gas stations.

The refineries are in Lemont, Illinois, Lake Charles, Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Citgo also fully owns three U.S. pipelines and holds stakes in six others.

PDVSA planned to use the revenues from the sale to alleviate the its cash crunch as it pays down debt from China.

Torres told El Universal that PDVSA will be able to pay $3 billion of bonds that mature on October 28 and weather lower oil prices with the help of an off budget fund called Fonden along with loans from China.


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