Potential US-Chevron deal sparks criticism from Venezuelan opposition
October 6, 2022
“Chevron, the last major U.S. oil producer still in Venezuela, reached a preliminary technical service agreement with PDVSA this year to revamp their joint ventures,” announced Reuters. The expanded license, which has yet to be reviewed by the US government, would allow Chevron and other US companies to resume oil production in Venezuela. The details of Chevron’s license request have not been made public, though the company maintains the deal is in compliance with the current US sanctions framework. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has not yet commented on the issue.
Venezuela’s opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, “is concerned an agreement between Chevron and Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA underlying the license request would not be legal under Venezuelan law,” and has sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols requesting additional details of the expanded license, says Reuters. A delegation is expected to meet with US officials later this month to address concerns. Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, says that despite claims to the contrary, the US “sanctions policy on Venezuela remains unchanged,” according to Reuters and Bloomberg. Any potential lifting of sanctions would be dependent upon the steps taken by the Maduro regime to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
Venezuela, once a top global oil producer, has seen a significant collapse of its oil industry in the past decade due to mismanagement, underinvestment, and corruption, and sanctions have only exacerbated the industry’s decline. A potential reopening of the country’s oil to US producers “would send a psychological signal to the market that more [oil] supply is on the way,” just as OPEC+ member countries agreed to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day, according to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. In the short term, Venezuela will not be able to fill the global demand for energy and gas caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although engaging the country “could serve as a longer-term strategy for the US and European countries,” Francisco Monaldi tells the Wall Street Journal.
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