Venezuela opposition adds drag to sanction talks

  • Spanish Market: Crude oil
  • 20/10/22

Venezuela's opposition rejects any US easing of oil sanctions, even mild ones aimed at getting President Nicolas Maduro back to the negotiating table on free elections, sources close to talks this week told Argus.

The intractability on both sides and the reality that increasing crude output in Venezuela would require time and extensive overhauls of its neglected oil infrastructure are complicating any outlook for progress.

In meetings this week with US State Department officials in Washington, DC, representatives of the opposition led by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido were adamant in opposing any easing of sanctions. The US has considered using more flexible sanctions rules for Chevron as an initial incentive to begin talks on free and fair elections in Venezuela, according to sources.

"Guaido is torpedoing the deal," according to one Caracas-based analyst briefed on the discussions.

"That's why 'el juego está trancado,' " a Guaido aide told Argus, using a phrase from dominoes meaning the game cannot continue.

State department officials described yesterday's meeting with the opposition as an effort "... to reaffirm US support for a Venezuelan-led negotiated political and humanitarian solution to the country's crises."

"We remain a steadfast partner of the Venezuelan people as they seek to reclaim their democracy," assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs Brian Nichols said.

Sources in Washington and Caracas familiar with the meeting described it as "tense," with the opposition upset with Chevron for its purported interest in extending what Guaido's allies view as a financial lifeline to Maduro's government. Chevron has lobbied for permission to restart exports from its joint ventures — any cash receipts would go to retire debt and pay for maintenance, domestic wages and taxes. The US has already cleared Italy's Eni and Spain's Repsol to trade Venezuelan crude through non-cash transactions, but Chevron still is not allowed to export any crude from Venezuela. The US earlier this year allowed Chevron to negotiate its future activities in Venezuela, without altering current prohibitions on crude exports.

Chevron has asked for modifications to the existing licenses that would give it more flexibility to plan and prepare to produce more oil in the future. The recent moves toward the possibility of sanctions relief has Chevron staff in Venezuela making specific plans to more than doubling output from its heavy crude PetroPiar project to 80,000 b/d and ramping up its mostly stalled PetroBoscan site to 120,000 b/d within a year if allowed.

Chevron told Argus this week there have been no changes to its existing Venezuelan licenses.


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19/06/24

Iran's crude output at 3.6mn b/d, says oil minister

Iran's crude output at 3.6mn b/d, says oil minister

Dubai, 19 June (Argus) — Iran's crude output has risen to around 3.6mn b/d, according to the country's oil minister Javad Owji. This puts production at the highest level since sanctions were reimposed on Tehran's oil sector in 2018 following Washington's exit from the Iran nuclear deal. "Our oil production, which was 2.1mn b/d at the beginning of our time in office [in September 2021], has reached 3.6mn b/d," Owji said today during a presentation to the Iranian parliament. "During these three years… with round-the-clock work and effort, production of crude oil in the country rose by more than 1.4mn b/d," he said. "A major part of that increase came through signing investment contracts with [domestic] contractors." When the administration of Iran's late president Ebrahim Raisi assumed office, Iran's crude exports were at their lowest level in a decade, Owji added. Owji's current production figure is 200,000 b/d above where he put Iranian crude output in November last year . At that time, he predicted a rise to 3.6mn b/d by March 2024, continuing an upward trend since the back end of 2022. In July last year, Owji put output at just shy of 3.1mn b/d. His latest assessment is around 300,000 b/d above Argus' estimate for both April and May . The last time Argus estimated Iranian crude output as high as 3.6mn b/d was back in July 2018. The rebound in production has been driven by Iran's ability to boost its exports. Iranian exports began picking up in the months after US president Joe Biden assumed office in January 2021, reaching around 700,000-750,000 b/d compared with 500,000 b/d before the US election. It was not until the second half of 2022 that exports took another leap, to 1mn b/d and beyond. Iran's crude exports have averaged just shy of 1.6mn b/d since the start of this year, according to data from Vortexa, up from 1.42mn b/d in 2023 and 990,000 b/d in 2022. The reasons for the revival in exports have been the subject of much debate, with some attributing it to more relaxed enforcement of sanctions by the US and others saying it has more to do with Iran scaling up its methods of circumvention. The debate even became a point of contention among Iranian presidential candidates this week as they gear up for the country's election on 28 June. Conservative candidates and even regime hardliners largely attribute the boost in exports to methods of circumvention. "Constructive and extensive relations with the world are required for [improving] the economy. This happened during the tenure of martyr Raisi. Now the US foreign secretary must explain to the [US] Senate why Iran can sell 2mn b/d of oil now," former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on 15 June. Raisi administration officials have repeatedly pointed to their techniques to get around sanctions and "energy diplomacy" as reasons for Iran's success in raising exports. But the reformist camp refutes those claims, with former foreign minister Javad Zarif rejecting the conservative narrative on state television on 18 June. "They [hardliners] said 'we taught them how to sell oil.' Not at all," Zarif said. "When Biden took office, his policy was to loosen the screw. Wait until Trump returns to office, and then we can see what [the hardliners] say." By Bachar Halabi and Nader Itayim Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast: Update


18/06/24
18/06/24

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast: Update

Updates with closure of Galveston, Texas City ports. New York, 18 June (Argus) — A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of south Texas and northeastern Mexico, bringing with it the risk of heavy rainfall and flooding. The warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Port O'Connor south to the mouth of the Rio Grande, as well as the northeastern coast of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. "The disturbance is very large with rainfall, coastal flooding, and wind impacts likely to occur far from the center along the coasts of Texas and northeastern Mexico," the center said overnight. Maximum sustained winds this morning remained near 40 mph and the disturbance is forecast to become a tropical storm by Wednesday. The system has been classified as a potential tropical cyclone by the center since it has not yet become better organized, but is expected to become the first named storm system of the year by early Wednesday. The port of Corpus Christi in South Texas and the Houston Ship Channel remained open as of Tuesday morning, but the nearby ports of Galveston and Texas City closed to inbound and outbound shipping traffic at 10pm ET Monday due to heavy weather, the US Coast Guard said. The system was expected to disrupt ship-to-ship transfer operations off the Texas coast as of Monday evening because of heavy seas. In the Gulf of Mexico, the transfer typically is from an Aframax or Suezmax onto a very large crude carrier (VLCC) at designated lightering zones near Corpus Christi, Galveston and Beaumont-Port Arthur. Prolonged lightering delays can prevent crude tanker tonnage from becoming available and exert upward pressure on freight rates, while also adding to demurrage fees. The storm is expected to turn towards the west-northwest and west tonight and Wednesday, with the system forecast to approach the western Gulf coast late Wednesday, the NHC said. Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches are seen across northeast Mexico into South Texas, with maximum totals of 15 inches possible. Flash and urban flooding are likely to follow with river flooding. By Stephen Cunningham and Tray Swanson Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast


18/06/24
18/06/24

Tropical storm warning for South Texas coast

New York, 18 June (Argus) — A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of South Texas and northeastern Mexico, bringing with it the risk of heavy rainfall and flooding. The warning is in effect for the Texas coast from Port O'Connor south to the mouth of the Rio Grande, as well as the northeastern coast of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. "The disturbance is very large with rainfall, coastal flooding, and wind impacts likely to occur far from the center along the coasts of Texas and northeastern Mexico," the center said overnight. Maximum sustained winds this morning remained near 40 mph and the disturbance is forecast to become a tropical storm by Wednesday. The system has been classified as a potential tropical cyclone by the center since it has not yet become better organized, but is expected to become the first named storm system of the year by early Wednesday. The system was expected to disrupt ship-to-ship transfer operations off the Texas coast as of Monday evening because of heavy seas. In the Gulf of Mexico, the transfer typically is from an Aframax or Suezmax onto a very large crude carrier (VLCC) at designated lightering zones near Corpus Christi, Galveston and Beaumont-Port Arthur. Prolonged lightering delays can prevent crude tanker tonnage from becoming available and exert upward pressure on freight rates, while also adding to demurrage fees. The storm is expected to turn towards the west-northwest and west tonight and Wednesday, with the system forecast to approach the western Gulf coast late Wednesday, the NHC said. Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches are seen across northeast Mexico into South Texas, with maximum totals of 15 inches possible. Flash and urban flooding are likely to follow with river flooding. By Stephen Cunningham Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Iran rebukes G7 over nuclear warning: Update


17/06/24
17/06/24

Iran rebukes G7 over nuclear warning: Update

Adds quotes from IAEA director general Dubai, 17 June (Argus) — Iran's foreign ministry has called on the G7 to distance itself from "destructive policies of the past" after the group issued a statement condemning Tehran's recent nuclear programme escalation. "Unfortunately, some countries, driven by political motives and by resorting to baseless and unproven claims, attempt to continue their failed and ineffective policy of imposing and maintaining sanctions against the Iranian nation," the foreign ministry's spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on 16 June. Kanaani advised the G7 "to learn from past experiences and distance itself from destructive past policies". His comments were in response to a joint statement from G7 leaders on 14 June warning Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment programme. The leaders said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. The G7's reference to Iran comes on the heels of a new resolution passed by the board of governors of the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA . The resolution calls on Iran to step up co-operation and reverse its decision to restrict the agency access to nuclear facilities by de-designating inspectors. Kanaani said "any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral co-operation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals", adding that some countries are "resorting to false claims to continue sanctions" against Iran. Tehran will continue its "constructive interaction and technical co-operation" with the IAEA, Kanaani said. But the agency's resolution is "politically biased", he said. Not an "anti-Iran" policy In an interview with the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia published today, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi refused claims of political bias. "We do co-operate with Iran. I don't deny this. This is important for inspection. My Iranian colleagues often say that Iran is the most inspected country in the world. Well, it is, and for good reason. But this is not enough," Grossi said, adding that the IAEA does not adhere to an "anti-Iran policy". Grossi also stressed the need for countries to return to diplomacy with Iran, while expressing concerns over the expansion of its nuclear programme. "Russia plays a very important role in this diplomacy, trying to keep the Iranian programme within a predictable and peaceful framework. But again, everything needs to be controlled," he said. The IAEA's new resolution and the reference to Iran in the G7 statement could be the start of a more concerted effort to raise pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme. "What is happening right now is the process of accumulation of resolutions, so that when the day comes and the IAEA makes a referral to the UN Security Council, there will be enough resolutions to make a case for action at the security council level," a diplomatic source told Argus . Iran is enriching uranium to as high as 60pc purity. Near 90pc is considered to be weapons grade, according to the IAEA. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japex takes control of Norway-focused upstream venture


17/06/24
17/06/24

Japex takes control of Norway-focused upstream venture

Tokyo, 17 June (Argus) — Japanese upstream firm Japex has acquired a majority stake in Longboat Japex from London-listed independent Longboat Energy to take full control of the Norwegian oil and gas joint venture. Japex spent $2.5mn to buy the 50.1pc stake, which will completed during July-September this year, Japex said. It bought a 49.9pc stake in Longboat Japex from Longboat Energy in May last year, with the UK firm last year looking to raise extra funds through asset sales, farm-down deals or issuing new equity. By Reina Maeda Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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