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The U.S. federal government on Saturday granted petroleum company Chevron a limited license to resume pumping oil in Venezuela, marking the potential first step in ending a years-long embargo of Venezuelan oil production by the United States.
In a press release, the Treasury Department said it had authorized Chevron to resume "natural resource extraction operations." The oil conglomerate is the last remaining American petroleum company in Venezuela, but had been barred from pumping due to U.S. sanctions against the authoritarian government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
However, as The New York Times noted, foreign investment in petroleum is something that Maduro desperately needs in order to improve his country's economy, which has been sinking despite Venezuela having the world's largest oil reserves. As a result, the U.S. agreed to grant Chevron's license after Maduro pledged to implement a $3 billion humanitarian program and also hold talks regarding fair elections in Venezuela, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Chevron may now resume activity in its oil fields alongside a joint venture with the Venezuelan national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
"We have long made clear we believe the best solution in Venezuela is a negotiated one between Venezuelans," an anonymous Biden administration official told The Washington Post. "To encourage this, we have also said we were willing to provide targeted sanctions relief." However, the official added that additional action would require more "concrete steps," including the release of political prisoners and allowing United Nations humanitarian missions into Venezuela.