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US extends Chevron waiver for Venezuela: Update

  • Market: Crude oil
  • 01/06/21

Adds comments from Chevron

The US government today renewed Venezuela sanctions waivers allowing Chevron and four oil services companies to maintain a minimal presence in that country, signaling no changes in the broader policy toward Caracas.

The waivers allowed Chevron and services companies Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Weatherford to continue operating in Venezuela after former president Donald Trump's administration imposed oil sanctions on the Opec country in January 2019. The terms of the US companies' continued presence were tightened last year, preventing Chevron from drilling, lifting, purchasing or processing Venezuelan-origin crude or oil products. The current waiver, valid through 1 December, maintains the same terms.

Chevron said it "will continue to comply with applicable laws and regulations in relation to the activities that it is authorized to undertake in Venezuela."

State-owned PdV is the majority shareholder in Chevron's oil assets, of which only PetroPiar and PetroBoscan in western Venezuela were active when the US company was forced to halt activities last year. Chevron has 30pc of PetroPiar and 39pc of PetroBoscan. The company also has 34pc of the PetroIndependencia joint venture in the oil belt, and 25pc of PetroIndependiente in the west. And on the maritime border with Trinidad and Tobago, Chevron has 60pc of the Loran natural gas field.

"We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our employees and their families, the integrity of our joint venture assets, and the company's social and humanitarian programs during these challenging times," Chevron said. "Chevron is a constructive presence in the country, supporting social investment and humanitarian programs that provide needed services for the communities where we work, including nutrition and health. In the last 10 years, we have dedicated more than $100mn dollars toward diverse social initiatives."

President Joe Biden's administration has indicated it has no immediate plans to ease sanctions against Venezuela's oil sector or change its policy of forcing the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, to agree to a new election. US sanctions have been unsuccessful in achieving that outcome — a reality current US officials acknowledge — but Biden's administration is still reviewing possible tweaks to its Venezuela policy, and the issue is not a foreign policy priority for the White House.

The Citgo docket

The Biden administration will have another chance to address its Venezuela policy next month, as it reviews whether to extend a prohibition on a potential takeover of US refiner Citgo by holders of PdV's bond.

The holders of a defaulted PdV 2020 bond backed by shares in Citgo have been unable to press for a takeover after the US Treasury Department's sanctions enforcement arm, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), began issuing general licenses in 2019 that prohibit that outcome.

Aside from the PdV 2020 bondholders, other creditors of PdV and the Venezuelan government have asked US courts to satisfy their claims by putting Citgo on the block. A process to establish the sale of shares of Citgo is underway in US District Court for the District of Delaware. "While the court may soon be required to resolve additional issues regarding the OFAC regulations, the court need not do so at this time in order to finalize the special master's appointment," judge Leonard Stark wrote in an opinion last week, referencing the appointment of a representative overseeing the sale.

The court battles for Citgo highlight political and legal challenges that originated with an unprecedented US policy decision to discontinue its recognition of Maduro's government and awarding that recognition to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Citgo, as a result, is still nominally controlled by an ad hoc board that reports to Guaido, even though PdV remains under the control of Maduro's government. Citgo operates a 770,000 b/d refining system in the US Gulf coast and midcontinent.


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21/07/24

Biden abandons bid for re-election: Update

Biden abandons bid for re-election: Update

Updates with reaction Washington, 21 July (Argus) — President Joe Biden has dropped his bid for a second term and is endorsing vice president Kamala Harris to serve as his party's presidential nominee, bowing to pressure from top Democrats who no longer saw a viable path for him to defeat former president Donald Trump in the November election. Biden committed to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends on 20 January 2025. Biden's abrupt withdrawal from the presidential race will leave it up to Democratic delegates to decide who will become their nominee by no later than the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. "While it has been my intention to seek re-election, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as president for the remainder of my term," Biden wrote in a letter posted on the social media site X. In calling for Democrats to rally around Harris as the nominee, Biden said he was giving his "full support and endorsement" of Harris and urged Democrats to "come together and beat Trump". Other top voices in the Democratic Party have called for a "mini-primary" to allow a new candidate to emerge, but doing so could run the risk of a protracted and politically risky intraparty fight. Trump, who has spent years attacking Biden's mental competency and age, said in a post today on Truth Social that Biden is not "fit to run for President" and had never been capable to lead the country. Other Republican leaders urged Biden to resign from the White House, which would lead to Harris being sworn in as president. "If Joe Biden is not fit to run for president, he is not fit to serve as president," US House of Representatives speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) said in a post on X. "He must resign the office immediately." House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) called Biden "one of the most accomplished and consequential leaders in American history". Jeffries did not explicitly endorse Harris. The Democratic revolt against Biden staying in the race followed the first presidential debate last month, when Biden often appeared feeble and confused and struggled to clearly articulate his policy positions. Biden called the debate "a stupid mistake" and blamed it on his busy travel and work schedule. But efforts by Biden and his campaign to reach out to Democratic lawmakers and donors have failed to assuage their concerns. Trump has also made polling gains in must-win battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and even threatened to be competitive in typically Democratic strongholds such as New Jersey. Biden is the first sitting US president since Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to prematurely end his re-election campaign. Biden said he would speak "in more detail" later this week about his decision. The Trump campaign had already started preparing for the possibility that Biden would drop out of the race after the presidential debate last month. Last week, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign declined to set a date for the vice presidential debate, saying it would be "unfair" to "whoever Kamala Harris picks as her running mate", in a taunting reference to the uncertainty of Biden's candidacy. By Chris Knight and Haik Gugarats Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Israel strikes Yemen’s Houthi-held Red Sea port city


21/07/24
News
21/07/24

Israel strikes Yemen’s Houthi-held Red Sea port city

Dubai, 21 July (Argus) — Israel's military on Saturday struck Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodeidah in Yemen, in retaliation for a drone attack by the Iran-backed militant group on Tel Aviv a day earlier, further stoking heightened geopolitical tensions in a key shipping lane for the global economy. Israel's airstrikes targeted "the power station that supplies the coastal city of Hodeidah" and also "the Hodeidah port and fuel tanks," Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said. The Houthi-run Al Masirah TV broadcast live footage of flames and smoke raging in the port's oil storage facilities that it said were hit. Saree vowed an "inevitable" and "huge" retaliation to Israel's assault. Saree also claimed on Sunday that the group fired ballistic missiles targeting Eilat in southern Israel. Israel's Defence Forces (IDF) said on Sunday it intercepted a "surface-to-surface missile that approached Israeli territory from Yemen." The IDF on 20 July officially claimed the attack on Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory. "After 9 months of continuous aerial attacks by the Houthis in Yemen toward Israel, IAF [Israeli air force] fighter jets conducted an extensive operational strike over 1,800km away against Houthi terrorist military targets in the area of Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen," the IDF said. "This port serves as an entryway for Iranian weapons for the Houthi terrorist regime," the IDF said, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made similar remarks in a televised speech. Houthi spokesperson and chairman of Al Masirah media network Mohammed Abdulsalam in a statement on social media platform X said that the Israeli attack targeted "civilian facilities." He also vowed that the attacks will only "increase the determination of the Houthis to ramp up their support for Gaza." Yemen's crude production collapsed soon after the start of the country's civil war, from around 170,000 b/d in 2011-13. The Houthi group uses Hodeidah's port to import some needed fuel oil shipments, with data from analytics firm Kpler suggesting the port received two shipments totalling 156,000 bls between June and July. Hodeidah is also an entry port for humanitarian fuel and food deliveries under the UN auspices, which are then distributed both to the internationally-recognized government of Yemen and to the Houthi authorities. Video footage posted on social media appear to show long queues in front of gas stations in Houthi-controlled areas, in anticipation of a possible fuel shortage closing in. Yemen's internationally recognized and Saudi-backed governing body condemned Israel's attack in a statement. It also renewed its warning to "the terrorist Houthi militias against continuing to tie Yemenis' fate in service of the Iranian regime's interests and its expansionist project in the region." Saudi Arabia's defense ministry on Sunday denied any relation or involvement in the targeting of Hodeidah, adding that the country will not allow any entity to violate its airspace. [Yemen's Houthis on 19 July claimed responsibility] (https://direct.argusmedia.com/newsandanalysis/article/2589330) for a drone attack in central Tel Aviv in Israel that claimed the life of one citizen and injured eight, according to the IDF. It marked a significant escalation that risked a regional spillover of the 10-month conflict between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas, especially with Israel highlighting the Iranian origin of the UAV. Israel and Iran avoided a full-blown war in April after a significant escalation led to exchanging direct aerial strikes against each other's territory. But the IDF attack opens yet another area of confrontation for Israel in the region in the aftermath of the 10-month conflict between between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas. Iran-backed Houthis began attacking commercial ships in and around the Red Sea six weeks after the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October last year in what they claim is an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Houthis are part of Tehran's so-called 'Axis of Resistance,' a regional proxy network that includes the Gaza-based Hamas militant group, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militias. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Biden abandons bid for re-election


21/07/24
News
21/07/24

Biden abandons bid for re-election

Washington, 21 July (Argus) — President Joe Biden has dropped his bid for a second term and is endorsing vice president Kamala Harris to serve as his party's presidential nominee, bowing to pressure from top Democrats who no longer saw a viable path for him to defeat former president Donald Trump in the November election. Biden committed to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends on 20 January 2025. Biden's abrupt withdrawal from the presidential race will leave it up to Democratic delegates to decide who will become their nominee by no later than the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. "While it has been my intention to seek re-election, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as president for the remainder of my term," Biden wrote in a letter posted on the social media site X. In calling for Democrats to rally around Harris as the nominee, Biden said he was giving his "full support and endorsement" of Harris and urged Democrats to "come together and beat Trump". Other top voices in the Democratic Party have called for a "mini-primary" to allow a new candidate to emerge, but doing so could run the risk of a protracted and politically risky intraparty fight. The Democratic revolt against Biden staying in the race followed the first presidential debate last month, when Biden often appeared feeble and confused and struggled to clearly articulate his policy positions. Biden called the debate "a stupid mistake" and blamed it on his busy travel and work schedule. But efforts by Biden and his campaign to reach out to Democratic lawmakers and donors have failed to assuage their concerns. Trump has also made polling gains in must-win battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and even threatened to be competitive in typically Democratic strongholds such as New Jersey. Biden is the first sitting US president since Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to prematurely end his re-election campaign. Biden said he would speak "in more detail" later this week about his decision. The Trump campaign had already started preparing for the possibility that Biden would drop out of the race after the presidential debate last month. Last week, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign declined to set a date for the vice presidential debate, saying it would be "unfair" to "whoever Kamala Harris picks as her running mate", in a taunting reference to the uncertainty of Biden's candidacy. By Chris Knight and Haik Gugarats Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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ExxonMobil Joliet refinery may be limited for 3 weeks


19/07/24
News
19/07/24

ExxonMobil Joliet refinery may be limited for 3 weeks

Houston, 19 July (Argus) — It could take up to three weeks for ExxonMobil's 252,000 b/d Joliet refinery in Channahon, Illinois, to resume normal operations after severe weather caused a facility-wide shutdown Monday . The company has limited its unbranded fuel supply in the region and placed customers on allocation, according to buyers. Restoring power and ramping-up the refinery to full operations could take up to three weeks, lasting well into August. ExxonMobil confirmed this afternoon that power has not been restored to the plant and previously declined to comment on a time line for a return to normal operations as it assesses damage at the plant. Channahon's emergency management director told Argus that Monday's tornado skirted the refinery and it faced no direct damage. US Interstate 55 which borders Exxon's refinery was closed due to downed power lines, but these have since been cleared and the road re-opened. By Nathan Risser Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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New Libyan firm starts exporting crude


19/07/24
News
19/07/24

New Libyan firm starts exporting crude

State-owned NOC subsidiary Agoco appears to be paying for work at its fields with crude, writes Aydin Calik London, 19 July (Argus) — A little-known Libyan firm has begun exporting crude, according to sources, official documents and ship-tracking data seen by Argus . Arkenu Oil, which describes itself as a private oil and gas development and production firm, exported 1mn bl of Sarir/Mesla from the port of Marsa el-Hariga on 10 July on the Zeus, a Suexmax . Shipping agent and port reports list Chinese trading firm Unipec as the charterer. The Zeus' bill of lading lists Libyan state-owned NOC as the sender of the consignment on behalf of Arkenu. Libyan crude sales have historically been the preserve of NOC and a handful of international oil firms that hold stakes in the country's upstream, including Italy's Eni, TotalEnergies and Austria's OMV. Turkey-based commodities trader BGN, which does not have upstream production in Libya, also regularly appears on loading programmes as a seller of the country's crude. According to a document dated 10 July, NOC allocated to Arkenu an unspecified share of production from its subsidiary Agoco's Sarir and Mesla fields in return for Arkenu carrying out development work at the sites. This implies that Agoco is paying Arkenu for the work in crude. Arkenu's 1mn bl cargo is worth around $84mn at prevailing market rates, Argus estimates. Arkenu, set up in early 2023 in the eastern city of Benghazi, says it owns modern drilling rigs and has a team of experts "who have held high positions in major oil production and development companies". It is unclear what work Arkenu has carried out for Agoco. Sarir and Mesla accounted for most of Agoco's roughly 280,000 b/d of output in 2023. Libya is politically divided between an internationally recognised administration in the west, which has historically controlled oil revenues, and a rival administration in the east, which is home to around three-quarters of the country's production capacity. Agoco is based in the east, and NOC in the west. Arkenu, NOC and Unipec have been contacted for comment. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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