Days after the drilling assets of a Purcell, Oklahoma company that had won a more than $1 billion drilling contract in Venezuela were sold at auction, the U.S. government granted more time to Chevron Corp. to continue working in the country until mid-April.
The Treasury Department granted permission over the weekend to allow Chevron, the last major U.S. company operating in the South American country to keep working there until April 22.
A similar move was no longer necessary for Horizontal Well Drillers LLC, a Purcell company that won a surprise contract with Venezuela. The company collapsed in 2019 and its assets were sold in mid-January 2020.
In 2019, the U.S. imposed sanctions barring imports of Venezuelan oil and transactions made in U.S. dollars with Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA. President Trump ordered the move to starve Venezuela of its oil dollars in an attempt to get President Nicolas Maduro removed from office.
The restrictions cut Venezuela’s oil exports by 32% last year, but Maduro has remained in power, supported by PDVSA and the country’s military.
Chevron and oilfield service firms Baker Hughes Co, Halliburton Co, Schlumberger NV, and Weatherford International have regularly received permission to remain in the country. The four services firms have largely ceased operations there.
The extension was a win for some Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who see value in keeping the company in Venezuela, which has the world’s largest reserves of oil.
The U.S. oil company’s Venezuelan oil and gas production has been falling and was about 32,000 barrels per day during the most recent quarter for which figures were available.