Oil falls on increased USA rig count, China industrial slowdown

The Trump administration imposed sanctions Monday on the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, a potentially critical economic move aimed at increasing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the opposition in the South American nation.

"Any violence and intimidation against U.S. diplomatic personnel, Venezuela's democratic leader, Juan Guiado [sic], or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response", Bolton warned in a tweet on Sunday.

Venezuela's self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido called Sunday for two new protests, in an effort to push the military to turn against leader Nicolas Maduro and back a European ultimatum demanding free elections within the week.

Maduro's refusal, at least so far, to order Guaido's arrest reflects mistrust in his own security forces as well as the Trump administration's warning that any harm to the man the USA recognizes as Venezuela's legitimate leader would be crossing a risky red line.

At the United Nations on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the global community to put a stop to Venezuela's "nightmare" and start supporting Guaido. "And those arrogant, overbearing attitudes, looking down on us, because we are "sudacas", inferior to them", he told CNN Turk.

Venezuela is very reliant on the US for its oil revenue.

If Maduro doesn't comply with this demand, the European Union said it "will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country's leadership in line with article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution".

The daughter of the late president Hugo Chavez is the country's richest woman, he says, with the economic collapse a "direct result" of the "corrupt" and "kleptocratic" regime of President Maduro.

Maduro, who maintains the backing of the military, has accused the U.S. and Guaido of attempting to engineer a coup.

Mr Guaido declared himself acting president last week amid massive and deadly anti-government protests, claiming Mr Maduro was illegitimately elected for a second term. He can say what he wants about me, but I protect my country, my people and my history.

Venezuela's once-buoyant socialist economic system has imploded from corruption and mismanagement since the collapse of world oil prices in 2014, pushing inflation to nearly 2 million percent and driving millions of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries.

Highlighting that Guaido violated the constitution, he said, however, he was not a jury and the issue would be solved in accordance with the law.

EU powers shifted toward the USA position Saturday with envoys of the United Kingdom and Germany saying the European Union would recognize Guaido as interim president unless a new election is called within eight days.

Oil constitutes close to 90 per cent of Venezuelan exports.

Washington urged the world on Saturday to "pick a side" on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro's government.

"As we've said in the past, the objective of sanctions is to change behavior", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, adding that when there are "rightful leaders" in Venezuela "then indeed that money will be available to Guaido". With Venezuelan allies China and Russian Federation holding veto power, there was little chance the United Nations body would agree to take action.