U.S. Eases Sanctions on Venezuela, Triggers Debate

A panicking Joe Biden has realized that his best friends, now that oil prices are soaring again and the SPR remains largely drained, are tinpot banana-republic “dictators” (in the White House’s own words) like Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, and on Wednesday the White House suspended sanctions on Venezuelan oil, gas and gold production. But since it would be too corrupt even for Biden to drop sanctions on Maduro in exchange for just a few barrels oil and nothing else, the White House pretended that the deal was in exchange for “promoting democracy”,  and In return the Nicolas Maduro government promised a deal with the opposition that could see elections held next year. Which likely means 100% mail-in ballots and Dominion machines to “count” them.

“The United States welcomes the signing of an electoral roadmap agreement between the Unitary Platform and Maduro representatives,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a news release.

“Consistent with U.S. sanctions policy, in response to these democratic developments, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued General Licenses authorizing transactions involving Venezuela’s oil and gas sector and gold sector, as well as removing the ban on secondary trading,” he added.

The statement cautioned that the Treasury reserves the right to revoke any or all of the newly issued licenses in case the “Maduro representatives” fail to stick to their word regarding a new electoral map for Venezuela. Of course, the Biden admin won’t revoke the deal as long as it gets some oil; then once Biden loses the 2024 elections all bets are off.

Reports about the deal emerged earlier this month, following a string of signals from Washington it was ready to ease the sanction regime in return for commitments from the Venezuelan government to hold new elections.

The U.S. made the biggest move in that direction last year, when it granted Chevron a license to return to Venezuela, and that was without asking for commitments from the Maduro regime because imports of Russian heavy crude had to be replaced urgently with Venezuelan heavy.

Now, the new license regime would allow financial transactions involving PDVSA, which could boost Venezuelan oil exports significantly.

Crude oil exports from Venezuela last month topped 800,000 barrels daily, which was the second-highest monthly export rate since the start of the year. Most of the exports went to China, Reuters reported in early October.

So how much oil is Biden’s deal unlocking? According to Bloomberg, Venezuela could be able to raise its crude oil production by 25% from current levels if the temporary U.S. easing of the oil sanctions becomes permanent.

Venezuela’s oil production currently stands at a paltry 800,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to various estimates. The eased sanctions would allow the South American country holding the world’s largest crude oil reserves to boost production by 200,000 bpd, analysts say, although the timing of achieving this increase remains uncertain.

Oil stocks will be in focus Thursday as crude slid on the confirmation of the sanctions being lifted.

Occidental Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Schlumberger are all lower by about 1% in premarket trading.

via zerohedge

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