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U.S. Moves To Improve Relations With Oil-Rich Venezuela

Senior U.S. officials have visited Venezuela without the trip being widely publicized as Washington again tries to improve relations with the Maduro government amid the continuing energy squeeze.

The AP quoted a State Department official as saying the visit was focused on releasing several U.S. citizens who have been detained in Caracas, including oil executives.

The report also noted that the Venezuelan president had confirmed the visit, saying the delegation met with the President of the National Assembly, a close ally of Maduro. The purpose of the visit, according to Maduro, was to "give continuity to the bilateral agenda between the government of the United States and the government of Venezuela."

Below the official narrative, however, there is the urgency of securing enough crude oil for a market where demand has yet to show any marked signs of slowing down. Venezuela has been a natural focus of attention for Washington, which earlier this year signaled that it was willing to lift some sanctions against Caracas in exchange for oil.

In May, Washington said it would lift restrictions on Chevron in order for the company to return to its business in the South American country, letting the supermajor negotiate terms directly with PDVSA.

Then, in June, Washington also eased restrictions for two European companies, Eni and Repsol, so they could restart their business relations with PDVSA and export some Venezuelan crude to energy-starved Europe.

Most recently, France called on Western leaders to consider the return of Venezuela and Iran to world oil markets as a squeeze on Russian oil exports by Europe, the UK, and the U.S. limits global supply.

"There are resources elsewhere that need to be explored," a French government official said on the sidelines of the G7 meeting, as quoted by Reuters. "So there is a knot that needs to be untied if applicable... to get Iranian oil back on the market. "We have Venezuelan oil that also needs to come back to the market."

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on June 28 2022 said:
    Venezuela can’t raise its production significantly without huge foreign investments. Any additional Venezuelan crude supplies can neither be expected soon nor will the United States be receiving any oil from Venezuela before it lifts all sanctions against it.

    Therefore, their impact on oil prices will be virtually non-existent.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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