Venezuela faces more than $10 billion in immediate claims from foreign entities. “The pool of creditors is much larger than the pool of available ways to get paid,” said Russ Dallen, a managing partner at the brokerage Caracas Capital Markets. “Citgo is the most valuable asset out there.”
Citgo’s Gulf Coast refineries are big buyers of Venezuela’s crude oil. The Houston company is one of the few customers from which Venezuela can expect same-day payments, Dallen said. It is possible that a new Citgo owner would carry on buying from Venezuela with little interruption, but it’s also possible that new ownership would destabilize those purchases, he said.