The United States has ramped up its maximum pressure campaign against the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.The maximum pressure campaign aims to bring about a democratic transition in Venezuela. As the U.S. Department of State’s Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said, “The United States remains firmly committed to the people of Venezuela and to the cause of freedom there.”
On April 21, the U.S. Treasury Department issued an amended authorization regarding the Venezuela-based operations of Chevron, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, and Weatherford.
While the previous authorization allowed these companies to broadly maintain operations in Venezuela, the new authorization only allows the limited maintenance of essential operations in Venezuela for safety or for preservation of assets involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA).The new authorization provides a wind-down period for companies to reduce their operations in Venezuela to these limited levels. Among other restrictions, Chevron and the other entities will no longer be authorized to drill, lift, sell, or ship Venezuelan crude.
Venezuelan oil exports have dropped by one-third since the United States and dozens of other countries recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the country in January 2019.
In February of this year, the United States ramped up pressure on Venezuela by imposing sanctions on Rosneft Trading, SA and its chairman, Didier Casimiro. The Swiss incorporated, Russian-controlled brokerage firm is a subsidiary of Russia’s energy giant, Rosneft.
Calling Rosneft Trading, SA “the primary broker of global deals for the sale and transport of Venezuela’s crude oil,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the company “has propped up the dictatorial Maduro, enabling his repression of the Venezuelan people. Maduro has destroyed Venezuela’s institutions, economy, and infrastructure, while enriching himself and his cronies through his abuse of state power and his welcoming of malign support from Russia, as well as from Cuba, Iran, and China.”
In March, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned another Russian-controlled oil brokerage firm, TNK Trading International S.A., for its activity in Venezuelan oil sector.
Also, in February, the United States sanctioned the Venezuelan state-owned airline CONVIASA and its fleet, which Maduro and his cronies had commandeered as a personal shuttle service. This action further prevents the Maduro regime from profiting from its illegitimate usurpation of state enterprises.