Against a backdrop of soaring oil prices, the United States of Joe Biden and Venezuela, socialist and under American sanctions, of Nicolas Maduro, have begun the beginning of a rapprochement. This Saturday, March 5, a delegation of senior American officials discreetly made the trip to Caracas. The news, revealed by the daily The New York Timeswas confirmed on Monday, March 7, by the spokesperson for the White House and by Mr. Maduro. “The purpose of the visit was to discuss several topics, including, of course, energy security”, said M.me Jen Psaki at the press.
Anxious to isolate Russia, cut it off from its allies and contain the soaring price of a barrel of oil, the government of Joe Biden plans to partially lift the American sanctions which weigh on Venezuela and have affected its sales since 2019. of crude. This is what the American press says.
No official details have been provided on the outcome of the discussions held in Caracas. But they “continue”, I confirmed M. Maduro. Mme Psaki said they also relate to the situation of six former executives of Citgo, the subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) in the United States, who have been imprisoned in Venezuela since 2020 for embezzlement. Five of the six detainees have American nationality.
The world’s largest crude oil reserves
“The threat of an explosion in the price of oil was instrumental in the White House and the State Department seeking more direct communication with the government of Nicolas Maduro, explain to World jurist Mariano de Alba, senior adviser to the International Crisis Group organization. For his part, Nicolas Maduro must obtain a lasting improvement in the economic situation of the country, if he wants to be re-elected in 2024. He could obtain a partial lifting of sanctions on Venezuelan oil, against the release of American prisoners. »
Venezuela, which holds the largest crude oil reserves in the world, produced more than 3 million barrels per day in 1999. Its production has fallen to less than 800,000 barrels a day, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). “The figure is possibly underestimated, since, due to American sanctions, the country exports part of its production clandestinely”, recalls analyst José Antonio Gil, of the Datanalisis Institute. Twenty years of chavismo – and three of sanctions – have ruined the oil industry and the state-owned company PDVSA. “But there are still wells, facilities and skillss, continues Mr. Gil. Venezuela could, in less than a year, double its production, to reach 1.5 million barrels per day. » Monday evening, Nicolas Maduro declared that PDVSA was ready to increase its production to 3 million barrels per day “for the stability of the world”.
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