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US extends deadline letting Chevron stay in Venezuela

MIAMI (AP) — The Biden administration on Tuesday gave Chevron Corp. and several other American companies six more months to wind down their operations in Venezuela.

The special license exempting the companies from U.S. sanctions comes as the Biden administration reviews the U.S. policy that seek to starve President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government of badly needed oil revenue.

It allows Chevron and other companies, including Halliburton and Schlumberger, until Dec. 1 to carry out essential work on oil wells that preserves its assets and employment levels in the South American nation. It leaves unchanged a ban in place since last year prohibiting the companies from producing or exporting oil. The earlier license, also for six months, was set to expire June 3.

California-based Chevron is the last major U.S. oil company to do business in crisis-wracked Venezuela, having first invested in the country in the 1920s.

Venezuela sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, yet its political upheaval and economic crunch have led more than 5 million people in recent years to flee their country, where many lack basic services like running water, electricity, gasoline and functioning hospitals.

Like the Trump administration, the Biden White House has harshly denounced Maduro as a “dictator” and continues to press for free and fair elections after the opposition sat out the 2018 vote when several candidates were barred from running.

At the same time, Biden has shown some support for attempts at dialogue between Maduro and members of the opposition. Opposition leader Juan Guaido — whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s rightful president — has said sanctions relief should be part of any such talks.

Chevron’s net daily production in 2019 as a result of joint ventures with state-owned PDVSA averaged 35,300 barrels of crude oil, equal to roughly 6% of Venezuela’s total production.

The Associated Press