Unites States clarifies: No systematic easing of sanctions on Venezuela despite some relaxation.

The US government is not planning to lift sanctions on Venezuela systematically, even after granting specific licenses to PDVSA partners to collect debts, according to a State Department official. Chevron and Trinidad and Tobago were both granted licenses to expand their operations and export Venezuelan oil to the United States. European oil companies Eni and Repsol were also authorized to import Venezuelan crude since last year, a departure from the more restrictive approach of the Trump administration. However, the State Department does not see these licenses as a general shift in their policy toward Venezuela. Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment José Fernández clarified during the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston that “the license is limited, at any time you can go back.” He further emphasized that they do not have any plans to liberalize further with Venezuela at this time.

Chevron resumed exporting Venezuelan crude to the United States in early 2023 after a four-year hiatus and shipped around 86,000 barrels per day (bpd) in February. However, Chevron’s cargoes and others assigned to Eni and Repsol since last year have not represented an increase in total exports from Venezuela amid a massive need for investment after years of conflict with international oil companies, an exodus of qualified personnel, and sanctions.

Oil analysts and executives presenting at CERAWeek do not expect a quick recovery of oil exports from Venezuela, which could help stabilize the market amid the reorganization of flow after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Exxon Mobil’s country manager for Guyana, Alistair Routledge, highlighted that “it is essential that governments understand that we are investing on a 20 to 30 year horizon, so we need stability and regulations to support it,” referring to the challenges of operating in Latin America.

To make the points more legit, it’s worth mentioning that Venezuela reported oil production to OPEC of 716,000 bpd in 2022, a slight increase from the previous year but still a fraction of the 2.8 million bpd it produced a decade ago.

In conclusion, the recent license to Chevron and other companies to import and export Venezuelan oil does not represent a general shift in US policy towards Venezuela. They still do not have any plans to liberalize further with them, and experts do not expect a quick recovery of oil exports from Venezuela in the near future, which could help stabilize the market.

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