Move would come just as Western sanctions on Russia threaten to tighten global supplies.
By The Wall Street Journal – Patricia Garip, Collin Eaton and José de Córdoba
Nov 23, 2022
The U.S. is poised to grant a license to Chevron Corp. CVX -0.96%decrease; red down pointing triangle to pump oil in Venezuela, a policy shift that would ease yearslong sanctions and could open the door for other oil companies to do business there.
The U.S. oil company would regain partial control of its oil-production and maintenance activities in dilapidated Venezuelan oil fields it has retained stakes in through joint ventures with the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA It wouldn’t make new investments there until certain debts are repaid, which could take years, according to people familiar with the matter.
Granting the new license is contingent on the Venezuelan government and its political opponents’ announcement, expected Saturday, to implement a $3 billion humanitarian program program using Venezuelan funds unfrozen by the U.S. as well as an agreement to resume talks in México City next month on resolving the country’s political crisis through free and fair elections, people familiar with the matter said. The talks would quickly set in motion U.S. authorization for Chevron’s return to Venezuela’s oil fields, according to the people.
The license, which isn’t permanent and will need future renewal, would return Chevron’s latitude in Venezuela to a sanctions framework similar to one in effect in 2019, before the Trump administration clamped down further on Chevron’s activities as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at ousting the government of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro.
The Wall Street Journal reported in October the Biden administration was preparing to scale down sanctions on Venezuela’s authoritarian regime to allow Chevron to resume pumping oil there, paving the way for a potential reopening of international markets to oil exports from Venezuela.
Reuters reported earlier on Wednesday that Chevron could soon win U.S. approval to vastly expand operations in Venezuela.