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Venezuela’s Maduro Visits Saudi Arabia To Deepen Oil Sector Ties

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is in Saudi Arabia on an official visit, the Saudi press agency reported on Monday, as the two fellow OPEC members seek stronger bilateral ties, including in the oil sector.

Maduro was welcomed by Saudi officials at the Jeddah airport late on Sunday, the Saudi news agency said, without giving details on the visit.

Maduro said on Twitter that he was in Saudi Arabia to strengthen bilateral relations.

Venezuela’s state television reported that Maduro’s visit to Saudi Arabia is aimed at developing “a work agenda to strengthen political, diplomatic, and energy alliances”.

Saudi Arabia has restored in recent months its diplomatic relations with regional rival Iran, which – like Venezuela – is under U.S. sanctions preventing it from exporting its oil.

Maduro’s visit to Venezuela comes a day before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit Saudi Arabia between June 6 and 8 “to meet with Saudi officials to discuss U.S.-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues including economic and security cooperation.”

In recent months, U.S. President Joe Biden has eased some sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and exports, authorizing U.S. supermajor Chevron to extract and export oil from Venezuela.

Venezuela is also looking to boost its revenues from its most important export commodity, crude oil. After several arrests in a corruption probe earlier this year, Nicolas Maduro is looking to increase Venezuela’s oil revenues, which are pretty much the only hard-currency revenues the country is receiving.

In March, Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s oil minister for three years, resigned amid a corruption probe into state oil firm PDVSA, and Maduro appointed PDVSA’s chief executive Pedro Rafael Tellechea to serve as the new oil minister. 

Chevron, the only U.S. company authorized by the U.S. to pump and export oil from Venezuela, is hoping to increase its shipments of Venezuelan oil, but Venezuela hasn’t been unable to bear the cost of dredging a key oil export inlet.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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