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US sanctions waiver for Chevron signals Venezuela solution near: Guaido's ambassador

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Carlos Vecchio, Venezuela's acting president ambassador to the U.S. speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

By Brian Scheid / PLATTS SPGlobal

Petroleumworld 07 31 2019

The Trump administration's decision to grant Chevron and four US oil services companies a 90-day waiver to continue working in Venezuela's oil sector signals a US view that it is nearing a solution in the South American nation, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's US ambassador said Tuesday. "This is a decision taken by the Trump administration that we respect," said Carlos Vecchio at a National Press Club appearance. "The oil sector is very complicated, three months isn't anything. So it tells you, in our view, that we can build a solution in a short period of time."

Vecchio is recognized by the Trump administration as an official representative of the Venezuelan government. The US recognizes Guaido, not Nicolas Maduro, as Venezuela's legitimate president.

The US Department of the Treasury on Friday extended for three months allowing Chevron, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International to continue certain work with PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, until October 25.

The waiver, which these US companies have been working under since the US unveiled sanctions on PDVSA in January, was set to expire Saturday. Sources familiar with the administration's plans told S&P Global Platts that some administration officials had wanted to let the waiver expire in order to ramp up sanctions pressure on Maduro and accelerate the collapse of the country's oil sector.

Vecchio, who detailed the economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela in a speech Tuesday, said that removal of Maduro from power is the only solution to the crisis.

He said the opposition government is developing a plan to improve Venezuela's oil sector, including inviting new private, foreign investment, while maintaining PDVSA as a state-run enterprise.

"The state doesn't have the money to increase oil production," Vecchio said. "For that, we will need private participation. It's the only way to increase oil production."

He declined to comment in detail, but said joint ventures would continue in Venezuela, with "better conditions" for those agreements.

Venezuelan oil production averaged 760,000 b/d in June, according to the latest Platts OPEC survey, 680,000 b/d below its June 2018 output and 1.64 million b/d below its output in June 2015.

As US sanctions have prevented shipments of light crude and heavy naphtha to Venezuela, PDVSA is bracing for another fall in crude production and exports in August, according to an internal report viewed by S&P Global Platts.

Still, Platts Analytics expects Venezuelan crude output to decline to 750,000 b/d by the fourth quarter of 2020, up from a previous forecast of 700,000 b/d, after data indicated output may have stabilized between 800,000 b/d and 900,000 b/d in the second quarter of 2019.

Story by Brian Scheid from Platts SPGlobal. / 07 30 2019


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