About 250,000 barrels per day of Venezuelan crude currently going to Asia could be diverted to the U.S. Gulf Coast following last week’s easing of U.S. energy sanctions on the OPEC country, Gary Simmons, chief operating officer of oil refiner Valero Energy, said.

Washington last week issued a six-month relaxation of sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sectors, in place since 2019, allowing the country to export to its chosen markets.

Valero is among the U.S., European and Asian firms in talks with PDVSA to resume or expand imports of Venezuelan crude and fuel, Reuters reported this week, citing sources.

The U.S. refiner has purchased cargoes of Venezuelan crude this year from Chevron Corp after the oil major in November received U.S. authorization to resume Venezuelan oil shipments to the United States following a 4-year pause.

Chevron this month exported its 100th cargo of crude from the country since receiving the license.

U.S. Gulf Coast refineries have historically processed heavy crude from Venezuela.

Source: Reuters reported by Arathy Somasekhar and Marianna Parraga in Houston and edited by Bill Berkrot