Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Venezuela to recover output lost to sanctions by year-end, oil minister says

Sanctions-hit Caracas and Tehran remain optimistic following the ousting of the hawkish John Bolton from the White House

Opec president, Venezuela's Quevedo, who also serves as the head of state-owned PDVSA was sanctioned by the US earlier this year. Pawan Singh / The National
Opec president, Venezuela's Quevedo, who also serves as the head of state-owned PDVSA was sanctioned by the US earlier this year. Pawan Singh / The National

Venezuela expects to recover production lost to US sanctions and for the embargo to lift “very soon” following the departure of John Bolton as US National Security Advisor, according to the country’s oil minister.

“Any decision that goes to the stability of the dialogue we are for [it],” said Manuel Quevedo, who also serves as the head of the state-owned oil company PDVSA.

"And for sure by the end of the year we will be recovering our production. We hope that the sanctions will be taken away very, very soon,” he added.

Mr Quevedo, the current president of Opec, the organisation currently undertaking supply adjustments with sovereign non-member producers led by Russia, was himself sanctioned by the US in February for his role at the helm of the PDVSA. Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, has had its production capacity severely curtailed. The tightening of US sanctions has wiped out 642,000 bpd of Venezuelan production since last year, with the country producing 712,000 bpd in August, according to secondary sources cited by Opec.

The economic sanctions policy against key Opec producers Venezuela and Iran was championed by the hawkish former US National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Following Mr Bolton’s dismissal, US President Donald Trump called his security advisor’s policy on Caracas “out of line”.

Mr Bolton was at the forefront of the “maximum pressure” approach by Washington, which saw the US enforcing heavy-handed measures against both Venezuela and Iran, sanctioning entities that traded in the countries’ oil.

Last month, Mr Trump signed an executive order freezing any Venezuelan government assets in the US, and has considered going after Russian oil giant Rosneft for continuing to trade with Caracas.

Rosneft has become the largest buyer of oil from Venezuela, which has been a top supplier to US refineries, which run on the country’s heavy crude.

The sanctions have had a debilitating impact on the Venezuelan economy, which largely depends on receipts earned from sale of barrels by the state-owned PDVSA.

The International Monetary Fund said in July that the cumulative decline of the country’s economy since 2013 is set to surpass 60 per cent and would be among the deepest five-year contractions seen in the last 50 years.

Mr Quevedo said he “saluted” the decision to fire Mr Bolton and hoped the sanctions would not be "repeated in any other country”.

"They are against our Venezuelan people and it has damaged our economy and the sanctions have damaged the oil markets. So we are for the stability of the oil markets,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iraq, Opec’s second-biggest producer said it remained unconcerned about obtaining waivers to continue fuel and electricity imports from Iran, which has also been the target of US sanctions.

"With John Bolton gone and reports that the sanctions would be eased, why shouldn’t we get waivers. Things would be normal. I hope, anyway,” Thamir Ghadhban, the country’s deputy prime minister and oil minister, told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: September 12, 2019 06:33 PM

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