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Venezuela Releases Chevron Execs In Effort To Smooth Relationships With US

Venezuela has released two local Chevron executives that were arrested back in April on corruption allegations, Reuters reports, citing sources from Caracas and Chevron. A source close to Chevron said the two, Carlos Algarra and Rene Vasquez, will have to report to the authorities every 15 days, without providing any further details about the developments.

The Algarra and Vasquez arrests were part of an ongoing corruption sweep that began last year. They were the first foreign oil company employees to be taken in, and this sparked concern among other foreign companies still maintaining a presence in the troubled South American country.

In 2017, the Venezuelan authorities arrested six executives from PDVSA’s U.S. branch, Citgo, including its president and five senior executives. As of April, more than 60 people had been arrested, two of which were former oil ministers, Bloomberg noted in a report on the arrests two months ago.

Earlier in 2018, Caracas also announced it was launching a lawsuit against a Miami-based company owned by commodity giants including Vitol, Trafigura, and Glencore, on allegations that it provided insider information to a number of large trading companies that made billions of dollars by buying oil products at below market prices.

Related: Goldman: OPEC Must Raise Production

The release of the Chevron executives, according to Reuters, is part of an effort by the Maduro government to improve its stained reputation after the May 20 elections that were condemned internationally as just a way of cementing the president’s total power. Another part of this reputation management effort was the release of scores of anti-government activists last weekend.

Meanwhile, the country’s oil industry is sinking deeper and deeper. Production is in free fall, the lowest in many decades, and exports are under threat now, too, as PDVSA cannot load the contracted cargos in full after ConocoPhillips seized a string of export assets in the Caribbean. This forced the Venezuelan company to redirect tankers to its own ports, which lack the necessary loading capacity to avoid delays.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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