Written by LUIS ALONSO LUGO Associated Press
(AP) — The Trump administration on Friday allowed Chevron to continue operating in Venezuela at least until October despite U.S. sanctions aimed at ousting President Nicolás Maduro by choking off revenue from the world’s largest crude reserves.
The action gives Chevron until October 25, when the Treasury Department will decide again whether to revoke or renew the license for a second time.
The license was originally issued in January for six months.
Kevin Book, head of the research team at ClearView Energy Partners, said it will be harder for Chevron to get a license renewal the closer it gets to the US presidential election in November 2020.
“The Trump administration seems to view the Venezuela issue as a proxy for Cuba, which resonates with Latino voters,” Book said. “It will get harder for the White House to give extensions to US companies when they are fighting to win votes in Florida.”
“Our operations in Venezuela continue in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” said spokesman Ray Fohr. “Our focus is maintaining the safety of the operations and supporting the more than 8,000 people who work with us, as well as their families.”
Chevron has operated in the South American country for almost a century and its four joint ventures with state-run oil monopoly PDVSA currently produce about 200,000 barrels a day. That’s about a quarter of Venezuela’s total production in June.
Chevron is the last major American outpost in Venezuela and U.S. foreign policy experts fear its ouster would mean oil fields Chevron helps operate would wind up in the hands of U.S. adversaries like Russia or China, both of which are staunch allies of Maduro.
Several other companies — Colgate, General Motors, the Kellogg Co. — have shut down in recent years, unable to cope with widespread shortages and hyperinflation that topped 130,000% last year.