Venezuela opposition rejects talks on US sanctions

  • Market: Crude oil
  • 27/04/22

Venezuela's opposition aligned with Juan Guaido will continue to demand significant political reforms before supporting any US plans to lift oil sanctions on the South American country as a way to ease supply concerns.

"The US cannot just walk back foreign policy [sanctions], just like that," an oil and energy adviser to Venezuelan politician Juan Guaido told Argus. The group considers the 2018 re-election of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro fraudulent, a position backed by the US. The opposition believe lifting the sanctions would only support keeping Maduro in power, although they said earlier this year they could be open to some gradual easing.

Guaido's allies would condition any deal on free, fair and verifiable elections, the adviser said.

Maduro's vice president Delcy Rodriguez earlier this week said that dialogue efforts are being "reformatted," but declined to elaborate.

The US has not even confirmed if lifting oil sanctions is on the table, but US diplomats visited Caracas on 5 March for the first meeting with President Nicolas Maduro since President Joe Biden took office.

US academic Ryan Berg, who covers Venezuela for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington, DC, believes that future talks are on the table, with plans for a potential meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

"They established contact back in March … parts of the Biden administration want to continue that dialogue," Berg said.

The opposition — which controls US refiner Citgo — might not participate in initial talks, he believes. They object to the possible location, accusing Trinidad and Tobago of mistreating Venezuelan migrants found in its waters.

"Go ahead and meet, but the other thing [the opposition] can do is upset the table and assume a harder stance," the Guaido energy adviser said.

Venezuela could send up to 400,000 b/d to the US if sanctions were lifted, PdV officials have said, while Maduro said output could hit 2mn b/d by the end of 2022. Venezuela's production now stands at roughly 600,000-700,000 b/d, based on independent estimates.


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