Lisbon, Portugal, August 23, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan government officials have had secret contact with US officials for “months,” President Maduro revealed Tuesday.
“I confirm that for months there have been contacts between senior officials from the Trump administration and from the Bolivarian government, with my express permission,” he said, adding that there had been “various contacts” to “regularize” the conflict with Washington.
The Venezuelan president went on to add that he is always “ready for dialogue,” urging Trump to “really listen” to Venezuela. No details of the contents of the discussions were disclosed.
Maduro’s comments followed an Associated Press report that a Trump administration intermediary had held “secret talks” with National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. The report did not disclose the identity of the intermediary, claiming that the goal of the meeting was to increase pressure by contributing to a “knife fight” allegedly taking place behind the scenes.
Cabello later confirmed that a meeting had taken place with Maduro’s blessing, dismissing claims of divisions among high ranking officials.
(Bloomberg) -- A looming U.S. sanctions deadline is threatening to clobber Venezuela’s dwindling oil-rig fleet and hamper energy production in the nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.
Almost half the rigs operating in Venezuela will shut down by Oct. 25 if the Trump administration doesn’t extend a 90-day waiver from its sanctions, according to data compiled from consultancy Caracas Capital Markets. That could further cripple the OPEC member’s production because the structures are needed to drill new wells crucial for even maintaining output, which is already near the lowest level since the 1940s.
A shutdown in the rigs will also put pressure on Nicolas Maduro’s administration, which counts oil revenues as its main lifeline. The U.S. is betting on increased economic pressure to oust the regime and bring fresh elections to the crisis-torn nation, a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Latin America’s biggest crude exporter until recent years.
Venezuela had 23 oil rigs drilling in July, down from 49 just two years ago, data compiled by Baker Hughes show. Ten of those are exposed to U.S. sanctions, according to calculations by Caracas Capital Markets. The Treasury Department extended waivers in July for service providers to continue for three more months, less than the six months the companies had sought.
Most other government agencies involved in the deliberations opposed any extension, a senior administration official said last month, adding that another reprieve will be harder to come by.
“Almost half the rigs are being run by the Yanks, and if the window shuts down on this in two months, then that’s really going to hurt Venezuela unless the Russians and the Chinese come in,” said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets.