The United States is considering loosening sanctions on Venezuela so Chevron Corp can pump oil in the country if Caracas takes steps towards restoring democracy, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
Under the proposed deal, the Biden administration would ease some sanctions in exchange for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro resuming talks with the political opposition on the conditions needed to hold free and fair elections in 2024, the newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the proposal.
US officials said the deal had not been finalized and could fall through if Maduro’s government did not resume negotiations with opposition parties, according to the report.
The deal would pave the way for Chevron and US oil-service companies to resume exports of Venezuelan oil to the global market amid spiralling energy prices worldwide.
Energy experts have cautioned that Venezuela’s oil supplies could have a limited effect on prices as the country’s production has plummeted after years of economic crisis, mismanagement and sanctions.
Venezuela’s oil industry has been under tough US sanctions since 2019, when the Trump administration and Western allies declared opposition leader Juan Guaidó the country’s legitimate leader following elections marred by voting rigging allegations.
White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson on Wednesday said the administration had no plans to change its sanctions policy “without constructive steps” for Maduro to restore democracy.
“Our sanctions policy on Venezuela remains unchanged. We will continue to implement and enforce our Venezuela sanctions”, Watson said in a statement following the Wall Street Journal report.