The U.S. Department of State alerted Venezuela that it could decide not to renew General License No. 44, issued on Oct. 18 to assist the OPEC country in rebuilding oil and gas production capacity, amid what Washington labeled “anti-democratic actions.”

The U.S. has already revoked sanctions relief for Venezuela’s gold sector—General License No. 43A—in response to the disqualification of opposition leaders from the 2024 presidential election, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller wrote Jan. 20 on X, formerly Twitter.

“The relief for Venezuelan oil and gas sectors will be renewed in April only if [Venezuela’s President Nicolás] Maduro representatives follow through on their commitments,” Miller said.

The U.S. has been pushing for “free and fair” presidential elections in Venezuela for numerous years. And recent U.S. sanction relief has been tied to presumed progress in achieving that objective.


US Companies Ponder Future in Venezuela as Washington Pressures Maduro on Elections

Commentary: Chevron Holds Steady in Venezuela

Miller’s comments come days after he said a decision by Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice upholding the disqualifications of opposition leaders María Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles undermined the competitive presidential election slated for late 2024.

“And absent a change in course from the government, we will allow that general license to expire and our sanctions will snap back into place,” Miller reiterated Jan. 30 during a press briefing from the State Department.

Matthew Miller
U.S. Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller during a press brief on Jan. 30 from the State Department. (Source: X, formerly Twitter)

“So, we went into this process [or negotiating with the Venezuelan government] with good faith. We wanted to accomplish several things,” Miller said. “One, we wanted to secure the release of the 10 Americans who were being held by Venezuela, six wrongfully detained, and four others, [and] we wanted to secure the release of a fugitive from justice. We were able to accomplish both of those things.”

But Miller said the U.S. government wants to see Venezuela return to a democratic path, and added that if that wasn’t possible that Washington remained “willing and committed” to retreat on sanction relief.

General License No. 44, issued by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), authorizes transactions in Venezuela spanning the production, lifting, sale and export of oil and gas to the payment of invoices and new investments. The license expires on April 18.

U.S.-based Chevron Corp. is the only American company to have remained in Venezuela under the rule of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips exited the country in the early 2000s in disagreement with a government mandate related to ceding majority control of projects to state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA).


Global Energy Watch: Chevron and the US’ Geopolitical Chess Match with Venezuela

Miller reiterated the U.S. government’s desire for Maduro’s government to abide by an agreement reached in Barbados late last year.

“That would mean announcing an electoral calendar that is agreed upon with democratic opposition. It would mean an audit and update of the electoral registry, the release of additional political prisoners. And most importantly, it would mean that all democratic opposition political candidates could freely participate in the 2024 presidential election. And that is of course not what we have seen,” Miller said.