Exports from Venezuela to the US in the first half of 2023 grew 555% compared to the same period in 2022. According to a report published by the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with data obtained from the US Census commerce agency, the growth was driven by oil sales, which represent more than 86% of all exports.
During the first six months of the year, Venezuela’s sales to the USA reached a total of 1.396 billion dollars and around 1.2 billion were oil exports. In the same period of 2022, the figure had been 213 million dollars.
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Also according to the report, the South American country had a surplus in its trade balance with the USA for the first time in three years, recording a total of 183 million dollars. In the first half of 2022, Venezuela had recorded a deficit of 800 million dollars.
The growth and surplus numbers coincide with the return of operations by the energy giant Chevron in Venezuela, which occurred at the end of last year after receiving a license from the US Treasury Department.
Until then, Chevron, like several other multinationals in the energy sector, was prohibited from operating in Venezuelan territory due to sanctions imposed by Washington in 2019, during the government of former president Donald Trump.
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Trump’s measures directly affected the revenue and activities of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company that is mainly responsible for the inflow of dollars into the country. According to official data, Venezuela suffered a 98% drop in foreign exchange revenue between 2014 and 2022, with the sharpest drop being recorded between 2019 and 2020, the period in which oil sanctions came into force.
As of 2019, oil exports to the USA, which until then was the main customer of Venezuelan barrels, were completely paralyzed. According to data from the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), Venezuela’s last oil shipments were made in June 2019 and consisted of just 7,000 barrels.
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However, data published by the EIA shows that imports resumed in 2023 and between January and June the US imported almost 20 million barrels of oil from Venezuela. The dates also coincide with Chevron’s return to the country, which has returned to operating in the mixed plants it owns with PDVSA and which, together, have the capacity to produce 200 thousand barrels per day.
Since returning to the country, however, the new terms of association signed between Chevron and PDVSA have not been disclosed and the lack of information raises doubts about the State’s revenue from mixed plants and whether the company’s return could be positively reflected in country’s finances. This is because the license issued by Washington allows operations, but not the direct payment of royalties and taxes from the energy company to the Venezuelan State.
Editing: Thales Schmidt