In a context of collapsing oil markets, the US Government has ordered US oil companies to leave Venezuela completely before the end of the year.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control, in charge of enforcing the sanctions, has renewed the licenses of the US oil companies that remain in joint ventures with Venezuelan PDVSA only until the end of the year, but it is imposing harsh restrictions. In a license renewal permit signed by Andrea Gacki, director of that sanctioning department, the companies Chevron, Halliburton, Schlumberger Limited, Baker Hughes, and Weatherford International, are given until December 1st to finish their maintenance operations, but from now on they must cease drilling, processing, buying or selling crude oil or derivative products.

The license expressly states that it does not allow the “drilling, extraction or processing, purchase or sale, transport or shipment of any oil or oil products of Venezuelan origin”. It also prohibits the design, construction, installation, repair or improvement of wells or other facilities or infrastructure in Venezuela or the purchase or provision of goods or services and the hiring of additional personnel or services. The U.S. government also prohibits the export to Venezuela of any diluents and other chemicals to refine the oil.

Maduro’s regime suffers from chronic shortages of gasoline and diesel fuel, used in hospital generators. Last year, the White House approved a series of tough sanctions on Venezuelan oil, going so far as to impose an embargo on imports from the U.S. However, it made a number of exceptions, giving temporary licenses to the aforementioned companies so they could collect debt from their joint operations with PDVSA.

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