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U.S. Oil Major Looks To Recoup $10 Billion Debt By Selling Venezuelan Crude

U.S. oil and gas firm ConocoPhillips has held preliminary talks with PDVSA to potentially sell Venezuelan crude oil on behalf of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company as a way to recover part of the nearly $10 billion ConocoPhillips has yet to collect after leaving the South American country when its assets were expropriated.

ConocoPhillips left Venezuela in 2007 after the expropriation of its investments in the Hamaca and Petrozuata heavy crude oil projects under then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

In 2018, ConocoPhillips reached a settlement with PDVSA to recover the full $2-billion amount that an international court awarded it earlier that year for the expropriation of its oil assets in Venezuela. The U.S. firm has almost $10 billion in sums to collect from Venezuela, according to several court and arbitration rulings over the 2007 asset expropriation.

Now ConocoPhillips is in early talks with PDVSA to load, transport, and sell Venezuelan oil in the United States on behalf of the Venezuelan company, as a way to recover some of the money it is owed, The Wall Street Journal reports, quoting sources with knowledge of the talks between ConocoPhillips and Venezuela.

Despite the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and exports, ConocoPhillips has a license from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to engage with PDVSA on debt repayment.

“Regarding PdVSA recovery efforts, ConocoPhillips is committed to pursuing all available legal avenues to protect our rights and obtain a full and fair recovery of the awards in recognition of our fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders,” the company said in a statement to the Journal, declining to discuss specifics of any deal with the Venezuelan state oil firm.

The Biden Administration has recently eased part of the sanctions imposed on Venezuela – initially slapped by former President Donald Trump – including granting U.S. supermajor Chevron, the only American company still operating in Venezuela, a six-month license that allows Chevron to import some Venezuelan crude oil to the United States for sale to U.S. refiners.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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