US Treasury authorizes Chevron to expand oil pumping in Venezuela

Biden administration applauds ongoing talks between socialist Maduro regime and Venezuelan opposition leaders in Mexico City

Chevron Corp. has won U.S. approval to resume and expand its oil operations in Venezuela, the U.S. government announced on Saturday.

The Treasury Department said Chevron has been issued an expanded license to import petroleum or petroleum products produced by its joint venture with PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil-firm. The approval comes after talks resumed between the Venezuelan government, led by socialist President Nicolás Maduro, and the opposition Unitary Platform. 

"This action reflects longstanding U.S. policy to provide targeted sanctions relief based on concrete steps that alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people and support the restoration of democracy," the Treasury Department said.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
CVX CHEVRON CORP. 155.28 -1.36 -0.87%

U.S. officials had previously offered to loosen sanctions and release some Venezuelan prisoners held in U.S. jails contingent on continuing talks and agreements to strengthen democracy in Venezuela. 

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Chevron gas station

The Chevron logo is displayed at a Chevron gas station on Oct. 28, 2022, in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

FILE: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stands before a meeting at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File / AP Newsroom)

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As energy prices have risen and fueled inflation, President Biden released more than 200 million barrels from the nation's emergency oil reserves to provide relief at the pump. His administration has urged foreign governments like Venezuela to increase oil production as well amid worldwide shortages caused by sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine, OPEC+ announcing production cuts, and slowing production in U.S. shale. 

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Amuay refinery complex which belongs to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA in Punto Fijo, Venezuela, Nov. 17, 2016.  (EUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo / Reuters Photos)

Venezuela produces at most 800,000 barrels of oil per day. That figure is up from the average of 525,000 barrels it produced a year ago, but far off its failed target of 1 million a day by the end of 2021 and nowhere near the more than 3 million barrels per day the country was producing in the 1990s.

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"The announcements by the Unitary Platform and the Maduro regime are important steps in the right direction to restore democracy in the country," the Treasury Department said. "The United States welcomes and supports the reopening of negotiations between the Unitary Platform and the Maduro regime, as part of our longstanding policy to support the peaceful restoration of democracy, free and fair elections, and respect for the rights and freedoms of Venezuelans."

A Chevron spokesperson told Reuters the company was reviewing the license terms. 

FOX Business' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.