Despite it being mere weeks since the US temporarily lifted most of its sanctions on Venezuela, many big independent oil traders are already offering shipments of the country’s crude oil.
Prior to the suspension, only Chevron, the maker of the Texaco lubricant and grease range, could export crude oil from Venezuela, thanks to a special license it received from the US Government.
Bloomberg now reports sources as saying that Gunvor Group is among the first traders to be offering US refiners a supertanker filled with crude oil from Venezuela. Reuters also cite sources and documents indicating that Trafigura, a commodity trading giant, has also been buying crude through PDVSA-approved intermediaries.
Venezuelan heavy crude tends to be popular among refiners in the US, especially since similar supplies from Russia are no longer an option.
The US Government lifted its sanctions on the country for a six-month period after the government led by Nicolas Maduro came to an agreement with opposition figures about holding elections next year. The US Treasury has said that any extension of the sanctions relief is contingent upon the country meeting its obligations as part of an “election roadmap.”
The oil sector in Venezuela has been plagued by years of mismanagement and underinvestment, and this means the country will struggle to grow its oil production rapidly.
The US Energy Information Administration said recently that it thinks the country could increase production by under 200,000 barrels per day by the end of next year, with this mostly coming from Chevron’s joint ventures.