The US State Department has granted an authorization allowing four US energy companies to conduct transactions with Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) until November 19. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued General License 8L, replacing the previous 8K License. This six-month extension allows US companies to conduct limited activities in Venezuela, such as essential maintenance of operations and settlement of certain transactions.
License 8L allows companies to retain their assets in the country, such as by participating in shareholder meetings and paying bills, salaries, and utilities, but prohibits activities such as extracting, processing, buying, or selling Venezuelan oil. It also restricts the design, construction, or improvement of infrastructure, the hiring of additional personnel, and the payment of dividends to PDVSA.
This authorization is in addition to General License 41 previously granted to Chevron, which allowed the US company to resume limited operations in Venezuelan oil fields. Chevron sent ships to Venezuela to transport crude oil to the United States, marking the first export of Venezuelan oil in almost four years.
These licenses come in the context of the sanctions imposed by the United States against PDVSA, which have frozen billions of dollars in the assets of the Venezuelan state-owned company. Venezuela has repeatedly denounced the negative impact of these sanctions on the country’s population and economy, which have experienced a sharp drop in oil revenues and a significant decrease in foreign currency. So far, more than 900 unilateral coercive measures have been registered, which have caused economic damage in excess of US$ 630 billion, according to the Venezuelan Anti-Blockade Observatory.
The authorizations granted by the State Department allow certain transactions between US companies and PDVSA but impose significant restrictions to prevent trade in Venezuelan oil and support for entities blocked by sanctions. These measures seek to balance political pressure on the Venezuelan government with the need to maintain certain essential operations and safeguard the assets of US companies in the country.
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