By JOSHUA GOODMAN
MIAMI (AP) — The Biden administration has renewed a license partially exempting Chevron from Venezuela sanctions so it can continue to operate in the oil-rich, socialist-ruled country.
The license issued Friday by the US Treasury Department allows California-based Chevron and other US companies to carry out only basic maintenance of wells it operates jointly with state oil giant PDVSA, dashing hopes of those who wanted to see a recovery in exports. to alleviate price pressure at US pumps.
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions against Russia’s oil industry have led the Biden administration to reconsider long-standing policies isolating two other oil powers: Venezuela and Iran.
In March, three senior Biden officials traveled to Caracas to meet President Nicolás Maduro in an attempt to bring him back to talks with the US-backed opposition and free several Americans jailed for years. Their carrot: the possible lifting of crippling oil sanctions imposed in 2019 after Maduro won a second term following elections deemed undemocratic by the United States and dozens of allies.
While Maduro welcomed the surprise outreach, joking that he wanted to travel to New York soon to attend a salsa festival, there has been little progress since.
Meanwhile, hardliners in the opposition and even some Democrats in Congress have accused the administration of bending over backwards to appease an oil despot for little profit because of Venezuela’s diminished prominence on the global energy markets.
Venezuela sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, but due to mismanagement and, more recently, US sanctions, production has steadily fallen from 3.5 million barrels per year. day when Hugo Chávez took power in 1999. In April, production was barely 700,000 barrels per day. — the lowest level in decades.
Chevron, which has operated in Venezuela since the 1920s, had pushed for an expanded license that would allow it to resume exports and stem the growing influence of oil companies from China, Russia, Iran and other adversaries. Americans.
Follow Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman