Economics/Class Relations

No Deal with the Devils Just Yet

by Peter Zeihan on June 12, 2022

In light of recent moves by the US to lift some targeted energy sanctions on Venezuela to help bolster energy sanctions against Russia, we are sharing an earlier video on the difficulty the Biden administration would face in trying to rely on “partners” like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia to limit the pain of sanctioning a major global oil and gas supplier. The challenges facing the global energy market are also a central theme in my upcoming book, The End of the World is just the Beginning, out June 14. Pre-order info here.

In an effort to ease Europe’s transition from Russian energy, the Biden administration has given the green light to two European oil companies—Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Repsol—to ship Venezuelan oil to Europe (and nowhere else) to cover debts.

This resumes a practice that was halted in 2019 by US-imposed sanctions. While this move will not drastically improve Europe’s situation, or affect global oil prices at all, it will boost Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s image in his country. For several years, the US has recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s “Interim President,” despite his inability to oust President Maduro, even with ample US support.

Now the US is in the awkward position of returning to the negotiation table with Mr. Maduro, officially not the president of Venezuela, and relying on his government to ease global energy shortages. Interestingly, the Biden administration also granted permission to Chevron to partially resume operations in Venezuela, meaning the US supermajor can perform basic upkeep of its wells that it operates jointly with state-run oil giant PDVSA. Perhaps this is a hint at more to come, but at the moment Venezuelan crude will not be making its way to the US–nor will the Russian supplies of heavy crude Washington had been buying to replace it.

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