US won’t renew license for Venezuela oil and gas

February 01, 2024 in International

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro

The US said it will not renew General License 44, which provides relief to Venezuela’s oil and gas sector, following the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ban barring the presidential candidacy of Opposition Leader María Corina Machado, unless all candidates are allowed to take part.

According to a press statement issued today, the US said Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has not adhered to the agreements signed in the Barbados Agreement last year which included free and fair elections.

“Actions by Nicolas Maduro and his representatives in Venezuela, including the arrest of members of the democratic opposition and the barring of candidates from competing in this year’s presidential election, are inconsistent with the agreements signed in Barbados last October by representatives of Nicolas Maduro and the Unitary Platform.”

“In support of the Barbados Agreement, the United States issued General License 44, which provides relief to Venezuela’s oil and gas sector. Absent progress between Maduro and his representatives and the opposition Unitary Platform, particularly on allowing all presidential candidates to compete in this year’s election, the United States will not renew the license when it expires on April 18, 2024.”

Additionally, the US said it is revoking General License 43, which authorized transactions involving Venezuela’s gold mining company Minerven.

The US government said US entities have 14 days to wind down any transactions previously authorised by that license.

The US said it “remains strongly committed to supporting dialogue between the parties and to the aspirations of the Venezuelan people for a democratic future”.

“We will continue to work with the international community and all peaceful democratic actors across the political spectrum in Venezuela and leverage mechanisms at our disposal to encourage a return to the principles in the Barbados agreement.”

“The Barbados electoral roadmap agreement remains the most viable mechanism to resolving Venezuela’s longstanding political, economic, and humanitarian crisis and realizing competitive and inclusive elections in Venezuela, but that will require Maduro and his representatives upholding the roadmap’s principles and ensuring that opposition political actors have the right to select their candidates for the 2024 presidential election freely.”

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley, met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week, where discussions included Trinidad and Tobago’s energy interests concerning Venezuela.

In 2023 Trinidad and Tobago was granted an exemption from US sanctions to proceed with a commercial arrangement with Venezuela to access natural gas from its Dragon gas field.

In December 2023 government said it secured a licence to proceed with the project.

Dr Rowley said the project is important, with the risk of a “significant reduction in our fortunes”, if the country is unable to access natural gas supplies in future.