International oil companies alleviate fuel shortages in Venezuela

Fabiola Zerpa and Lucia Kassai

Today 19:41

Big oil companies—including Chevron Corp. and Repsol SA– are alleviating fuel shortages in Venezuela as part of new agreements after the lifting of US sanctions that have allowed them to expand their operations in the South American country.

The Italian Eni SpAand the French Etablissements Maurel et Prom SA are among the companies that have supplied a series of fuels and refined products to the state company Petróleos de Venezuela SA in the last four months, according to three people familiar with the matter and data from the intelligence company Kpler Ltd. Some of the deliveries They are part of recently signed agreements that offer greater operational control to foreign partners, including financial and sourcing decisions.

Venezuela’s oil industry fears losing ground if US economic sanctions return.

Venezuela imported oil due to shortages

Venezuela imported 84,000 barrels a day of refined oil in January, between gasoline, diesel and naphtha, according to Kpler data. It is the highest figure since October 2020, when Iran began supplying fuel to the country to address the shortage.

Rising imports have helped alleviate years of a huge fuel shortage that kept drivers lining up for sometimes days to fill their cars and severely restricted Venezuela’s industrial and agricultural activity. These measures follow the easing of US sanctions in October, when the Biden administration pressured President Nicolás Maduro to commit to holding free and fair elections.

The United States granted a six-month license for oil operations in Venezuela. But it is unclear whether the companies will continue to supply fuel if sanctions on oil and gas are renewed in April, as the Biden administration has warned.

Exxon would drill wells near a region disputed by Venezuela

“Gasoline supply has improved at stations across the country, with no days-long lines in cities outside of Caracas, especially since January,” said Enrique Chacón, head of the Federation of Gas Stations of Venezuela.

Western companies have replaced Iran as the main supplier of light petroleum products. In 2020, Iran sent workers to help modernize Petróleos de Venezuela’s refineries as the company struggled to maintain operations, but no details have been released about the progress of that work.

Chevron, Eni, Repsol, Maurel et Prom and PDVSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Translated by Paola Torre.

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