PDVSA's Oil Facility
Oil facility of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA Reuters

A company closely linked to Texas billionaire Rod Lewis announced a deal with Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA to rehabilitate five aging oil fields, The Associated Press reported.

The announcement comes days after the Biden administration reinstated sanctions against the sector given the Maduro government's lack of progress on electoral concessions in the South American country.

The company in question is LNG Energy Group, which produces natural gas in Colombia. It was created after a merger with a company owned by Lewis.

LNG said the deal was executed within the framework of the U.S. sanctions release program, as the White House had left open the possibility for companies to apply for licenses exempting them from the restrictions.

This comes as oil prices increase at a global level, potentially impacting the Biden administration's standing with voters given its impact on inflation as the presidential elections get closer by the day.

The only large American company with extensive operations in Venezuela is Chevron. Few others dared to venture in the country, whose top brass has been heavily sanctioned for several years.

As mentioned, some sanctions had been lifted following the so-called Barbados Agreements, which resulted in commitments from the Nicolas Maduro government to move toward freer and fairer elections.

However, sanctions were reimposed last Wednesday as the relief didn't have the effect it intended.

Officials stressed that even though the Venezuelan government upheld some commitments, like setting a date for the presidential elections, updating the electoral register and "starting a process to allow international election observation". However, it has failed to do so with many others, like allowing an opposition candidate to run.

"The areas in which they fell short includes the disqualification of candidates and parties due to technicalities and what we see as a pattern of continued harassment and repression against opposition figures and civil society," an official said about the decision.

Despite the banning of different candidates, chief among them Maria Corina Machado, who won a broad primary last year, the Venezuelan opposition seems determined to compete in the July elections.

They have coalesced around Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia, a little known diplomat who was among the few allowed to sign up. The candidate gave this week his first public address as the Venezuelan opposition's presidential candidate, thanking political leaders for their support and conveying a hopeful message ahead of the elections.

"We face the challenge of betting for Venezuela's recovery. No one can be indifferent to the situation millions of fellow Venezuelans are living. It's an expanding state of poverty with persisting inflation and a currency that's losing value," he said.

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