Chevron Corp could win U.S. approval to vastly expand operations in Venezuela as soon as Saturday once the Venezuelan government and its opposition resume political talks, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
A U.S. authorization for Chevron to help rebuild the country's sagging oil production was one of the biggest plums for bringing about talks between the Venezuelan government and its opposition.
U.S. officials this year sought to smooth a return to negotiations between socialist President Nicolas Maduro and the country's opposition by offering a slight easing of sanctions and releasing some Venezuelans in U.S. jails.
Both Venezuelan parties and U.S. officials are pushing to hold talks in Mexico City this weekend, the people said, the first since October 2021. Maduro gained clout this year with newly elected leftist leaders in Brazil and Colombia and the opposition's weakening support.
Chevron did not immediately reply to a request for comment. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has reason to grant a wider license with U.S. shale production gains slowing, Russia's oil exports shrinking under sanctions and Saudi Arabia signaling possible OPEC output cuts.
The United States this year has kept oil prices from soaring by releasing more than 200 million barrels of the nation's emergency oil reserves. Those releases wrap up next month.
Biden's administration had signaled any easing of Venezuela sanctions, including granting Chevron a broad license to revive oil output and regain trading privileges in Venezuela, would come only if the two sides had progressed in political talks.
(Reuters - Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston; Additional reporting by Sabrina Valle, Matt Spetalnick and Vivian Sequera; Editing by Josie Kao)