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Chevron’s Venezuelan Oil Export Hopes Hit Snag

Chevron’s plans to increase its crude oil exports from Venezuela have hit a snag, with the sanctioned South American country unable to bear the cost of dredging a key oil export inlet.

Chevron’s Venezuela hopes include ramping up crude oil exports from the sanctioned country—but in order to do that, Lake Maracaibo needs to be dredged. And Venezuela will not purchase the necessary equipment to do the dredging, according to a letter Venezuela sent to Dutch shipbuilder Royal IHC, citing limited funds.

Chevron paid for a measurement of the amount of sediment accumulated at the bottom of the lake—but Chevron could be forced to pay for the dredging as well if it wants to increase its exports.

Chevron asked Venezuela to dredge the inlet to prevent ships from running aground as it attempts to fulfill its ambitions of exporting between 400,000 bpd and 500,000 bpd of crude oil out of Venezuela. The U.S.-based company’s current Venezuelan exports stood at 300,000 bpd, according to Bloomberg, but this is already a significant increase from Chevron’s January export rate of 100,000 bpd.

Venezuela’s heavy crude oil is prized by Gulf Coast refiners, who, until recently, looked to Russia’s heavy grades to replace it. Last December, it was reported that several refiners were attempting to get their hands on the rare Venezuelan crude oil.

The Biden administration eased sanctions on Venezuela to allow Chevron to resume its work in Venezuela when access to Russian heavy crude was shut off by the new sanctions.

In November, the government granted Chevron a six-month license to operate in Venezuela under its joint ventures with PDVSA there. Profits from the sale of Chevron’s Venezuelan-derived crude oil will go towards paying down its debt to Chevron and will not bolster state-run PDVSA’s profits.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com


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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 06 2023 said:
    Since US sanctions have hindered Venezuela’s ability to export more oil and earn higher revenue and since Chevron is authorized to sell Venezuelan oil to the US market as payment for the money owed to it by Venezuela, then it is up to Chevron to foot the bill or part of it for the dredging of Lake Maracaibo.

    Chevron asked Venezuela to dredge the inlet to prevent ships from running aground but Venezuela declared that it will not purchase the necessary equipment to do the dredging citing limited funds.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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