Chevron Corp.’s Venezuelan oil production has increased by about 80% since November when Washington gave the go-ahead to re-engage in production operations in the OPEC country.

The California-based oil giant has seen production rise at its four joint ventures (JV) in Venezuela despite the poor state of the country’s infrastructure, Chevron Chairman and CEO Mike Wirth said Jan. 27 during the company’s quarterly webcast.

“They’re producing about 90,000 barrels a day now, which is up about 40,000 barrels a day since we saw the change in these license terms,” Wirth said. Prior to U.S. sanctions levied on Venezuela in early 2019, the JVs produced an average 200,000 bbl/d, according to Chevron data.

Venezuela is home to the world’s largest oil reserves at around 304 Bbbl, according to BP. The South American country holds great potential to boost oil production and exports amid reduced energy flows from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions last year.

Wirth said that the company is continuing to work on the ground to expand production.


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Chevron’s JVs in Venezuela are Petroboscán, Petroindependiente, Petropiar, and Petroindependencia.

“We've got a couple of cargos coming into our Pascagoula refinery,” Wirth said. “We're going to be delivering cargos to other customers on the Gulf Coast and then the revenues go into a series of structured channels to pay expenses and other obligations.”

Global production to grow modestly in 2023

Chevron Says Venezuela Production Up Nearly 80%
(Source: Chevron Corp. earnings presentation)

Chevron saw its global net production reach 3.01 MMboe/d in fourth-quarter 2022 and 3 MMboe/d for the full-year 2022, Chevron CFO Pierre Breber said during the webcast. Production for both the quarter and year was down 3% compared to their respective periods in 2021. Production abroad fell 7% in 2022, mainly owing to the end of concessions in Thailand and Indonesia, while production in the U.S. rose 4% compared to 2021, mainly in the Permian Basin.

The Permian is now contributing nearly 25% of Chevron’s production. It’s Midland and Delaware basins averaged 738,000 boe/d in fourth-quarter 2022 — an 8% increase year-over-year, Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) said in a Jan. 27 report. The company said it’s on track to average 1 MMboe/d by 2025.

“As a reminder, Chevron's share of production is lower under certain international contracts when actual prices are higher than assumed in our guidance,” Breber said.

In 2023, Chevron expects production to come in flat to up 3% at $80/bbl Brent after adjusting for lower prices and portfolio changes, primarily the divestment of its Eagle Ford assets and the expiration of a contract in Thailand, Breber said. The Permian and other shale and tight assets will anchor production in the new year.

Chevron’s upstream volumes  were lower than TPH’s “projected 3.10 MMboe/d and the Street’s 3.09 MMboe/d,” according to its research report.

Strong quarterly, yearly earnings

Chevron’s adjusted earnings reached $7.9 billion in fourth-quarter 2022 compared to $4.9 billion in fourth-quarter 2021. Adjusted earnings in the most recent quarter  primarily excluded a $1.1 billion international upstream write-off and impairment charges. For the full year, adjusted earnings more than doubled to $36.5 billion compared to $15.6 billion in 2021.

A day prior to the webcast, Chevron’s board declared a 6% increase to its quarterly dividend and a $75 billion buyback of shares.


Chevron Ups Dividend, Authorizes $75 Billion Share Buyback

“Our model currently assumes $9 billion of buybacks in 2023 as our commodity deck is lower than what was realized in 2022, though first quarter buybacks are expected to stay at the approximate $3.8 billion pace,” Jefferies wrote Jan. 27 in its research report.

Wirth said that in 2022, Chevon delivered on its financial priorities: returning cash to shareholders, investing capital efficiently and paying down debt.

“We remain focused on returns and value, not on production. That's what drives all of this,” Wirth said.