CARACAS, April 6 Venezuela's state oil company,
PDVSA, said on Thursday it had "started bank transfers" to make
its first April bond payments, outlays that will further squeeze
the already cash-strapped business amid a deep recession.
The oil-rich South American nation faces payments of nearly
$3 billion in April, mostly on bonds issued by PDVSA.
Most of that is due on Wednesday as PDVSA's April 2017 5.25
percent note matures.
"On the 4th of April of this year, bank transfers for
interest payments on PDVSA 2027 bonds ... and PDVSA 2037 bonds
were started," PDVSA said in a statement tweeted by its
president, Eulogio Del Pino.
President Nicolas Maduro's government has pledged to keep
paying bondholders, bashing default talk as a Wall Street plot
to sabotage his Socialist administration.
"PDVSA demonstrates its robust productive capacity, today
strengthened and fully operational as it pays interest to
bondholders," the statement added.
Low oil prices and a grueling recession that has millions
skipping meals have worsened PDVSA's financial position in
Caracas-based PDVSA has been particularly affected in the
last weeks by unforeseen spending on emergency oil and fuel
imports to stem a nationwide gasoline shortage.
Venezuela is negotiating financial help from Russian oil
major Rosneft to complete the payments, two market
sources and a government source familiar with the talks told
Reuters last week.
And Venezuela's central bank is also negotiating financing
with a New York-based investment fund by using PDVSA bonds as
collateral to help meet the payments, a lawmaker said on Monday.
(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer;
Editing by Steve Orlofsky)