HOUSTON / WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department is preparing to renew Chevron Corporation’s license to operate in Venezuela in the coming days, but possibly without extensively expanded terms, according to four people close to the talks.
Venezuela’s latest U.S. power producer, in March, asked President Joe Biden’s government for a license that would allow it to speak louder in a joint venture with Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA, the first step in reviving output and controlling where oil is shipped.
Contrary to earlier expectations for a broader approval, however, the license is now expected to be renewed or returned in some conditions, such as 2020, which did not limit Chevron’s drilling, processing or shipping oil from Venezuela. , According to man. A final decision in this regard has not been made yet, said a concerned person.
Washington last week gave Chevron a “narrow” approval to engage in talks with President Nicolas Maduro’s government in November on future activities. U.S. officials are now waiting for Venezuela to set a date for the resumption of political dialogue with government opponents, people say, a potential determinant in the creation of the Chevron license.
Political talks in Mexico have not yet been formally transformed, with the two sides arguing over which country to oversee, as Norway did last year, two other people familiar with the matter said. Chevron’s license is set to expire on June 1.
“We are no longer talking about other issues,” said a source close to the talks, referring to Chevron’s joint venture taking an operating role and pursuing authorities to bring Venezuelan oil to the United States.
Too much pressure
As President Biden’s administration seeks to encourage political dialogue, it has faced criticism from Republicans as well as some of his fellow Democrats who do not want to make any concessions to Maduro.
At the same time, the US government is concerned about rising fuel prices and fears of a shortage of domestic supplies.
According to Washington sources, congressional opposition to any of the measures seen as easing sanctions has reduced the likelihood that Chevron will be given the green light for any control over production or trade at this time.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that giving Maduro a “handful of unsolicited handouts” so that his government would promise to sit at the negotiating table is a “strategy to fail.”
In recent years, Chevron, Annie of Italy and Repsol of Spain have sought US approval to take Venezuelan oil cargo to pay off past debts, arguing that these conditions would not pay Venezuela cash.
Between 2019 and 2020, Chevron was allowed by then-President Donald Trump’s government to trade unpaid goods produced by his Venezuelan joint venture in order to pay off dividends and debts owed by PDVSA. Special privileges have been revoked as part of Trump’s pressure campaign against Maduro.
“We are hopeful that General License 8 will be renewed so that we can continue our presence in the country in the long run,” said Ray Foher, a spokesman for Chevron. “We are committed to the safety and well-being of our employees and their families, the integrity of our joint venture assets and the company’s social and humanitarian program.”
The US Treasury declined to comment. PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment
In March, Washington surprisingly resumed diplomatic engagement with Venezuela to replace Russia’s crude oil and fuel, which would be banned weeks later.
But since that high-level meeting, U.S. officials have repeatedly said that any sanctions for Venezuela would be tied to Maduro’s “concrete steps,” highlighting the difficulties for each side in getting at least a fraction of the demands on the table.
The United States recognizes opposition leader Juan Guido as the rightful interim president of Venezuela and considers Maduro’s 2018 re-election a sham. But the socialist president remains in power.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granhome told a congressional hearing last week that the United States would “not import any oil from Iran or Venezuela.”
(Reporting by Mariana Paraga in Houston and Matt Spatalnick in Washington; Additional reports by Diego Ore in Mexico City and Timothy Gardner in Washington; edited by Chris Rees)