Venezuelan energy officials and Chevron executives plan to address workers in their joint ventures this week as they prepare for the first major foreign participation in Venezuela’s oil industry in years, four sources close to the matter said.
In November, the U.S. Treasury Department granted Chevron a six-month expanded license, part of Washington's effort to encourage political talks between President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition toward an election next year.
The California-based company has said it does not expect significant capital investment in the coming six months in Venezuela due to restrictions in the license, which allows exports to the United States but prevents proceeds from reaching Venezuela's coffers.
The meeting with workers, which will take place at the joint oil project Petropiar in the Orinoco Belt, will communicate new managers and explain maintenance work and operational improvements to be done to facilities in the near term, the people said.
Venezuela's Socialist President Nicolas Maduro, speaking at PDVSA headquarters on Dec. 6, said the Chevron contracts adhere to energy provisions in the country's constitution, and the U.S. firm "will soon be producing and the oil reaching markets worldwide."
Pushing back at critics of the agreement, Maduro added that trading relationships "cannot be ideologized. Energy relationships cannot be ideologized."
PDVSA, which owns the majority of four joint ventures with Chevron, is expected to retain the existing projects' presidents, while Chevron would appoint general managers to some, the sources said. The projects' ownership will remain untouched.
PDVSA and Venezuela's oil ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Chevron said in a statement it "continues to conduct business in compliance with the sanctions framework provided by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC]."
The joint venture employees, which are paid by PDVSA according to Venezuelan laws, will continue working under the same terms.
The parties are in talks to expand some benefits and encourage better performance at facilities, especially in a key crude upgrader in the Orinoco, which will supply heavy crude to the United States once PDVSA allocates cargoes, one of the sources added.
Venezuela's Hydrocarbon Law mandates joint operation of all oil joint ventures in Venezuela. Even though Chevron hopes to expand its say in the joint ventures, both the U.S. license and Venezuela's legal framework limit what Chevron can do.
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