The United States government has eased a few economic sanctions on Venezuela to encourage resumed negotiations between the U.S.-backed opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro. This is reported by CNBC. In many ways, these concessions have an oil focus. In particular, they will allow Chevron Corp. to negotiate its license with the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, but not to drill or export any petroleum of Venezuelan origin, two senior U.S. government officials said. They spoke under the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not been made.
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said: "The Venezuelan government has verified and can confirm that the U.S. has allowed its and European companies to negotiate and resume operations in Venezuela."
Additionally, Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores — a former high-ranking PDVSA official and nephew of Venezuela’s first lady — will be removed from a list of sanctioned individuals.
These moves follow goodwill gestures by Maduro after meeting in March with representatives of the administration of President Joe Biden and a recent gathering in Central America between U.S. officials and the main Unitary Platform opposition coalition to discuss a path forward.
Venezuela’s government suspended talks with the opposition in October after the extradition to the U.S. of a key Maduro ally on money laundering charges.
The U.S. and a lot of other countries withdrew recognition of Maduro after accusing him of rigging his 2018 reelection as president. In his place, they recognized Juan Guaidó, who was head of the then-opposition-dominated congress.
For the past five years, the U.S. has used financial and personal sanctions, criminal indictments and support for clandestine groups in an unsuccessful campaign to remove Maduro and restore democracy.
But in March, U.S. officials traveled to Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, to meet with Maduro after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended the world order and forced Washington to rethink its national security priorities.
After the meeting, Maduro freed two American prisoners and promised to resume negotiations with his opponents.
The senior U.S. officials said at that time that the government will "calibrate sanctions" based on concrete outcomes at the negotiations and would reimpose them in the event of backsliding in the dialogue process.
Reference. California-based company Chevron first invested in oil production in Venezuela in the 1920s. Its four joint ventures with PDVSA produced about 200,000 bpd in 2019. The U.S. government ordered it to cut production in 2020 and work only on the wells necessary to preserve its assets.
Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves. Now it has the opportunity to increase its production from the current 800,000 bpd to 2.5 million, as it was in 2017.
Top 15 countries in terms of oil reserves at the end of 2019, billion barrels (OPEC’s data)