Washington — The Trump administration said on Friday it will renew Chevron Corp’s license to drill for oil and gas in Venezuela despite sanctions, signaling it sees value in having the U.S. oil producer operate in a country on the verge of economic and political collapse.
The Treasury Department said it will renew the license for three months for Chevron, the last U.S. oil company operating in Venezuela, a member of the OPEC producer group. The license runs through Oct. 25, 2019.
The United States imposed heavy sanctions on Venezuela early this year in an effort to force out Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Other U.S. oil field companies had been given licenses despite the sanctions but all have largely halted operations there because of the instability.
Washington has been trying to force out Maduro, and supports opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly.
In January the administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA that have cost Maduro’s government billions of dollars in oil assets, but issued Chevron a six-month license to keep operations going.
Chevron has four joint ventures with PDVSA that produce the equivalent of about 200,000 barrels per day of oil, and its stake in the ventures recently produced about 40,000 bpd. The company, which has been in Venezuela for nearly 100 years, says there are about 8,000 employees, contractors and direct suppliers involved in the ventures.