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Reliance and Maurel & Prom renews bid for US license to operate with Venezuelan oil

Maurel & Prom S.A. announces that it has received the specific license it applied for on September 1, 2023 from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Arathy Somasekhar, Marianna Parraga and Nidhi Verma, Reuters

HOUSTON/NEW DELHI

Indian oil refiner Reliance Industries has resubmitted a request to the U.S. for an authorization to import crude oil from sanctioned Venezuela, three people close to the matter said, and resume oil trade between the OPEC producer and the once second-largest destination for its oil.

French oil producer Maurel & Prom separately on Monday said the U.S. on Friday granted it a license to conduct oil and gas operations in Venezuela for the next two years.

The U.S. in April did not renew a general license for Venezuela to export oil and fuel to its chosen markets, and gave 45 days to companies to wind down transactions. But the U.S. had said some individual authorizations to foreign firms seeking to do oil business with Venezuela would be issued.

The license had broadly eased Venezuela oil sanctions first imposed in 2019, moving to reimpose punitive measures in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s failure to meet his election commitments.

After the easing of sanctions in October, Reliance and other Indian companies that have business in the past with Venezuela previously applied to the U.S. Treasury for individual authorizations. Those were not granted.

Indian refiners, however, resumed Venezuelan oil purchases through intermediaries. Since October, Reliance has chartered at least one supertanker to buy crude from state-run oil company PDVSA. It also received Venezuelan oil cargoes from third parties, according to internal PDVSA documents viewed by Reuters.

Before U.S. oil sanctions were first imposed on Venezuela, Reliance was the second largest individual buyer of Venezuelan crude after China’s CNPC (CNPET.UL).

Reliance did not reply to a request for comment. The U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment.

Maurel & Prom’s license allows it to continue production activities under an agreement signed with Venezuela last November. Its license is the first authorization issued by the U.S. under the exemptions it offered last month to its reimposed sanctions regime on the South American country.

“It gives us clear visibility for the future,” M&P’s CEO Olivier de Langavant said in a statement. The company owns a 40% interest in an oilfield joint venture with PDVSA and has agreed to boost oil output in the field.

The U.S. Treasury and State departments in recent years have received dozens of license requests from firms interested in investing in Venezuela’s energy industry or importing Venezuelan crude or gas. Just a few of those individual requests have been approved, including a key license to U.S. oil major Chevron.

Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar and Marianna Parraga in Houston and Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington Editing by Marguerita Choy

reuters.com 05 06 2024

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