Washington toughens tone, PetroChina left with few options

July 5, 2010 (Beijing) — PetroChina, one of the largest oil companies in the world has been told by the U.S. government “not to process Sudanese crude at its new refinery in South China”, Reuters reports.

"There is a freeze on Sudanese crude into the new plant, as it is under the U.S.-listed PetroChina, not the parent company CNPC which produces crude in Sudan," said one industry officials with direct knowledge of the issue.

The current U.S. president Barack Obama formally renewed sanctions against Sudan last year.

"One possible way out is for PetroChina to transfer the refinery assets to parent company CNPC," said a second senior industry source.

Sudan produces Nile and Dar Blend crudes.

In his October 2009 message to Congress, Obama wrote “the actions and policies of the Sudan government pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared with respect to Sudan and maintain in force the sanctions against Sudan to respond to this threat”.

The sanctions imposed against Sudan by the United States in 1997 forbid U.S. companies to do business in Sudan.

PetroChina, CNPC, and the Sudanese government, have been accused of perpetuating genocide in Darfur by human rights organizations.

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