Venezuela Oil Production Grew 18% After Biden Sanctions Relief

17 March 2022, Venezuela, Anzoategui: Side view of the "Jose Antonio Anzoategui" industria
Stringer/picture alliance/Getty Images

The ruling socialist regime in Venezuela documented an 18-percent increase in oil output in the first trimester of 2024 when compared to the same period in 2023, according to information published by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in its latest April 2024 report.

The oil output windfall followed the implementation of a still-active broad oil and gas sanctions relief package by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden in October that effectively restored the authoritarian regime’s main source of revenue.

According to OPEC information, Venezuela achieved an oil output of 874,000 barrels per day (bpd) during March – an amount that, while slightly below February’s 877,000 bpd, is higher than January’s 841,000 bdp output. The amounts registered by OPEC are, however, lower than the 900,000 bpd output claimed by Venezuelan Oil Minister Pedro Tellechea in February.

The regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro, after more than two decades of socialist mismanagement, has left Venezuela’s oil industry in shambles. Regime officials have been desperately attempting to restore the nation’s bygone oil output in the past year, enlisting the aid of its ideological ally Iran.

Both anti-U.S. regimes have, in recent years, bolstered their oil cooperation in Venezuela. Iran is currently providing assistance to Venezuela in repairing and restoring the nation’s grossly mismanaged rundown oil refinery industries. As of 2022, the Iranian regime has also begun to refine its own oil in Venezuela’s refineries.

Alongside the regime of dictator Bashar Assad in Syria, Iran and Venezuela are also advancing plans to build a new refinery in the Syrian town of Homs that, if successfully built, will yield further profits and revenue streams for the three countries.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) upon his arrival at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on February 20, 2024. Russia and Venezuela vowed to boost cooperation in oil and gas production and the “pacific use of nuclear energy” at a meeting of foreign ministers in Caracas Tuesday. (GABRIELA ORAA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration, acting as a mediator during negotiations between the Maduro regime and the Venezuelan opposition, awarded the ruling socialists with a six-month oil and gas sanctions relief package in October after both parties signed the “Barbados Agreements,” a document containing a series of vague promises towards holding a “free and fair” presidential election in 2024.

The sanctions relief package once again allows the Maduro regime to freely sell Venezuelan oil in U.S. and international markets, leading countries such as India and China to sign new oil deals with Venezuela, as well as countries such as Spain and France agreeing to reactivate joint oil ventures in Venezuelan territory.

Maduro did not fulfill the terms of the agreement. Instead, he opted to repeatedly violate the signed document, ultimately completely replacing it with a tailor-made electoral roadmap a sham presidential “election” on July 28 in which only hand-picked rivals and “opposition” collaborationist figures will be able to run against the ruling dictator. Maduro banned legitimate opposition figures from participating in the “election.”

Despite Maduro’s repeated violations of the signed agreements — and the dramatic escalation of the regime’s repression against dissidents experienced since the sanctions relief went into effect — the oil and gas provisions of the sanctions relief package remain active at press time.

The sanctions relief is slated to expire on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Reuters reported on Monday, citing a State Department spokesperson, that the White House will not renew the sanctions relief package unless Maduro makes “progress” on “commitments for free and fair elections this year.”

Reuters stated in its report that the Biden administration is “determined’ to punish Maduro in some way, but it is expected to stop short of a full return to former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy against the Venezuelan socialist regime. Trump imposed the currently lifted sanctions in response to the Maduro regime’s long history of human rights violations against its people.

A possible step under consideration, according to sources cited by Reuters, would be to allow Venezuela to continue selling its oil in international markets but to “reimpose a ban on use of U.S. dollars in such transactions,” which would require Venezuela to switch to other currencies and expand barter arrangements and swaps.

The sources also claimed that the Biden administration is expected to renew a separate license originally granted to California-based Chevron in November 2022 that allows the company to resume oil production and exports from Venezuela into U.S. markets. That renewal is reportedly independent of the sanctions relief package’s possible end, as are other licenses granted to European oil companies to trade Venezuelan oil.

Prior to Reuters’ report, Jorge Rodríguez, the head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, announced on Friday that representatives of the Maduro regime met with U.S. representatives on April 9 in Mexico City. Rodríguez claimed that the parties discussed immigration and the lifting of sanctions during their conversations. The regime official alleged the United States had “failed” to comply with a schedule for the lifting of sanctions on the Maduro regime.

An oil refinery at the Paraguana Refinery Complex on Lake Maracaibo in Maracaibo, Zulia state, Venezuela, on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. A decision by the US on Oct. 18 to ease sanctions in exchange for greater political freedom in Venezuela, has opened the doors for deal making and increased production that will enable the Latin American country’s crude to reach global markets. (Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty)

Rodríguez, a high-ranking member of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), said that the Maduro regime delegation delivered a document to the Biden administration in which “Venezuelan society” rejects the sanctions imposed by the United States against Venezuela.

The Maduro regime echoed Rodríguez’s remarks in an official statement published in response to the alleged “interest and biased leaks” of the private meeting. The statement referenced, but did not outright confirm, a report published by Bloomberg on Thursday that documented the private encounter between the Maduro regime and Biden administration officials ahead of the sanctions relief package’s expiration date.

Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro claimed during the latest episode of his Monday evening television show that Rodríguez and socialist governor Héctor Rodríguez (no relation) held a video conference with U.S. officials on Monday.

“Today at noon there was a videoconference with the United States, they continue blackmailing that they are going to remove license 44 [oil and gas sanctions relief package],” Maduro said. “I tell Venezuelans that we have taken our own course of work and our own economic model, with threats and sanctions, and we learned to recover.”

“We do not depend on you gringos. They want to hurt us with public information, but you lose more, by hurting us you hurt yourselves more, with license and without license,” he continued.

The socialist dictator asserted that “by now, the United States should have lifted all sanctions on Venezuela,” emphasizing that his regime has “made claims in the framework of those talks.”

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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