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Last major U.S. oil company in Venezuela gets license renewal from Biden administration

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(Reuters) Chevron Corporation, the last major U.S. oil company still operating in Venezuela, received a new U.S. government license allowing it to remain in Venezuela until Dec. 1, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday.

The United States beginning in 2019 imposed sanctions barring imports of Venezuelan oil and transactions made in U.S. dollars with Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA, a move designed to starve the country of oil dollars and oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Chevron welcomed the renewal, the first under U.S. President Joe Biden and the eighth since 2019. It continues “to comply with applicable laws and regulations,” governing activities in Venezuela, said Chevron spokesman Ray Fohr.

The oil firm has been “a constructive presence in the country, supporting social investment and humanitarian programs,” he added.

Chevron has had a special U.S. operating license exempting it from sanctions on Venezuela’s vital oil sector, though the administration of former President Donald Trump last year modified the license to restrict the company from key activities like drilling and trading. The latest waiver was due to expire on June 3.

Tuesday’s renewal of the license, which also applies to oil service companies Halliburton, Schlumberger Limited, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International, continues those restrictions.

The companies are also not authorized to repair or improve wells, hire additional staff or services, pay dividends to Venezuelan state-run PDVSA or negotiate any new loans.

The license allows the companies only to conduct transactions with PDVSA “necessary for the limited maintenance of essential operations in Venezuela or the wind down of operations” by Dec. 1. The companies would risk U.S. government sanctions or punitive measures if they fail to comply.

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