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Brazil Sends Oil Experts to Venezuela

A team of oil industry experts from Brazil’s state energy major Petrobras have traveled to Venezuela at the invitation of President Nicolas Maduro despite U.S. sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that the Petrobras delegation had visited several oil fields in Lake Maracaibo, a top oil-producing region in Venezuela, and a logical priority for the government, which wants to reverse years of declining production.

This visit is the latest in a string of visits from foreign state-owned oil companies that have also featured a delegation from Algeria’s Sonatrach and Bolivia’s YPFB, the Bloomberg report noted. Pemex also sent officials to Venezuela.

Venezuela’s economy—and oil industry—has been crippled by some of the toughest U.S. sanctions and years of underinvestment. Last year, the Biden administration loosened the sanction noose allowing Chevron to return to Venezuela’s heavy oil fields but now many fear a reversal of this after President Maduro banned an opposition candidate from running in the presidential elections scheduled for July. The ban has left Maduro as the only candidate.

The relaxation of the sanctions last year led to an increase in oil production, with the daily average hitting 850,000 bpd in November last year. The government has been aiming to boost production to 1 million barrels daily.

At the same time, the Maduro government seems to be eyeing oil reserves in the Essequibo region that constitutes two-thirds of the territory of neighboring Guyana but Venezuela claims is its own territory.

The government organized a referendum on the issue last December and announced overwhelming support for its territorial claim, sparking worries that Venezuela may invade Guyana to take its oil riches. The Essequibo region contains a lot of the oil discovered in Guyana so far, including the Stabroek Block where Exxon and its partners have so far discovered reserves of some 11 billion barrels.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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