The company has chartered two tankers for the task, with one set to pick up a cargo of Venezuelan crude and the other set to bring diluents to a Chevron oil joint venture in the South American country.
The move comes after the U.S. government issued a six-month license to Chevron in November, allowing the company to expand at four Venezuelan oil joint ventures that produce, process, and export oil and bring their oil to the United States. The license marks the first step by the U.S. government to ease sanctions on Venezuela as an incentive for the country to work with opposition leaders on a presidential election in late 2023.
Analysts believe the new oil flows could set the stage for additional concessions by the Venezuelan and U.S. governments. Chevron, the second-largest oil producer in the U.S., could potentially return to a historical role in Venezuela's oil production and processing over time.
U.S. Easing of Venezuelan Sanctions Could Depend on Political Talks
The U.S. government's issuance of a license to Chevron to expand its operations in Venezuela could signal a shift in the country's sanctions policy. The license will become more flexible as political talks between the two countries progress. The U.S. appears to be offering incentives, or "carrots," to Venezuela to encourage negotiation cooperation.
Further easing Venezuelan oil sanctions could involve the reinstatement of excluded political candidates and election observers. The Biden administration has already authorized European oil companies to receive Venezuelan crude to recoup the pending debt, removed individual sanctions on some Venezuelans, and released relatives of Venezuela's first lady convicted of drug trafficking charges.
While Chevron had previously requested a broader license to allow it to take operational control of its joint ventures in Venezuela, the U.S. opted for a more limited authorization set to be scalable as political talks progress. According to Jose Ignacio Hernandez, Venezuela's former attorney general, the company will also face "enormous compliance demands" by the U.S. government in its financial dealings with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.