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Oil tankers leased by PDVSA in Curacao. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. sanctions have crippled Venezuela's oil industry so fully that the country has half a billion dollars worth of oil sitting in ships off its coast, Bloomberg's Lucia Kassai and Fabiola Zerpa report.

What's happening: An armada of 16 ships, holding 8.36 million barrels of Venezuelan crude, are floating off the country's coast. The cargoes belong to PDVSA, Chevron, Valero and Russia's Rosneft oil company.

The big picture: The sanctions have further cut off what was an already ailing oil sector for Venezuela — the country's only real export. The nation with the world's largest proven oil reserves had been pumping oil at a 70-year low even before the latest sanctions on the oil sector went into place.

Details: Oil prices edged up on Monday, a dead cat bounce from the selloff that followed President Trump's calls in a tweet for OPEC to "relax and take it easy" with its planned output cuts. Crude had previously reached a 3-month high in anticipation of the cuts from OPEC and Russia.

  • Saudi Arabia is planning to pump 500,000 less barrels per day in March, and Russia has signaled it will further reduce production over the next 2 months. The cuts are expected to last through June.

Yes, but: Goldman Sachs' energy analysts expect prices to rise as high as $75 a barrel, they said in a note to clients on Monday, but reverse course as the return of the "New Oil Order" returns, with U.S. producers pumping up production and the expiration of OPEC+ cuts.

Go deeper: Venezuela and the new oil landscape

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Technology

Pandemic gave cover to online dating scams

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Crooked Casanovas used online dating scams to steal an estimated $500 million from lonely victims last year, according to a new analysis of government fraud data by Atlas VPN, an internet security provider.

Why it matters: The isolation of the lingering pandemic provided cover to fraudulent suitors who had an excuse for not meeting up in person even as they fleeced their would-be lovers out of gift cards, money — even cryptocurrency.

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
32 mins ago - World

U.S. and Iran "in the ballpark" of a nuclear deal, Biden adviser says

Brett McGurk. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk says the U.S. and Iran "are in the ballpark of a possible deal" to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, but he “doesn’t want to put odds on it."

Why it matters: That's the most optimistic statement from the Biden administration since the nuclear talks resumed in Vienna last December. McGurk, who was speaking at a Carnegie Endowment event, didn’t explain the reasoning behind his assessment.