The Biden administration is close to granting a license to Chevron to resume pumping oil in Venezuela, following previous reporting that President Joe Biden would ease sanctions on the socialist country to allow the U.S. oil company to continue production.
Chevron has retained stakes in Venezuelan oil fields through its joint ventures with Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), The Wall Street Journal reported. The new license would allow Chevron to regain partial control of its production and maintenance in Venezuela.
The new license is contingent on an expected announcement from the Venezuelan government and its political opponents to implement a $3 billion humanitarian program using funds recently unfrozen by the U.S., and to resume talks to resolve the socialist country’s political crisis by implementing free and fair elections, the Journal reported.
The license would not be permanent and would require renewal in the future, but once granted, it would allow Chevron to operate in Venezuela under a sanctions framework similar to what was in effect in 2019 when former President Donald Trump’s administration implemented sanctions in an effort to oust Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro.
The Biden administration initially signaled that it would allow Chevron to resume pumping oil in Venezuela in October when Russia and Saudi Arabia announced they would massively reduce oil production to just two million barrels per day, The Daily Wire reported.
At the same time, the Biden administration also released convicted narco-traffickers related to Maduro in exchange for hostages taken by the regime, a move that could incentivize other hostile foreign powers to detain American citizens so they can use that as leverage over the Biden administration.
“Well, the two Venezuelans that were released are the nephews of Maduro who happen to be convicted drug dealers,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said. “They were put in jail after being convicted after a fair trial in the United States. Evidence was produced and it was overwhelming.”
“That has now put a price tag on Americans. Every time you do one of these deals — and I wanted those people released as much as anybody,” Rubio continued. “But every time you do this, now others know, I can take Americans, I can hold them until I need something as a bargaining chip.”
Rubio said that the trade was a big win for the socialist dictator: “So I think seven innocent American hostages in exchange for two convicted drug dealers who happen to be the nephews of Maduro is a huge win for Maduro and, unfortunately, puts Americans all over the world now in danger.”
Ryan Saavedra contributed to this report.