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

Venezuela is set to hand oil fields and facilities once operated by ConocoPhilips to a small firm as it scrambles to close deals before U.S. sanctions go back in place on Thursday, preventing new actors from entering the country without risking a response from the Biden administration.

Bloomberg reported that Venezuelan firm A&B Investments will partner with state-run PDVSA to run heavy oil fields in the Orinoco Belt, as well as its associated processing facility.

The temporary license that eased oil sanctions against Caracas is set to expire tomorrow. All indicators point at it not being extended as the Biden administration decries its counterpart's failure to uphold its commitment to advancing toward freer and fairer elections.

"Absent progress by (President Nicolas) Maduro and his representatives in terms of implementing the road map's provisions, the United States will not renew the license when it expires on April 18, 2024," said a State Department spokesperson this week.

The decision this week could also involve the implementation of more restrictive sanctions to replace the former scenario. But the outcome is still unclear, with officials at a crossroads given concerns about immigration and domestic oil prices potentially affecting the government's stance in November's elections, according to the Miami Herald.

Venezuela could lose a total of $2 billion in oil revenues by the end of 2024 due to the renewed sanctions, according to Luis Barcenas, the head of Caracas-based economic firm Ecoanalitica.

Despite promises of a free and fair race from Venezuela as part of last year's Barbados Agreement, the recent barring of Maria Corina Machado, opposition favorite, and her substitute, Corina Yoris, has all but quashed expectations of the kind.

Maduro gave a defiant message to Biden this week as the deadline approached. "Here's the message I want negotiators to convey to President Biden: 'if you want, I want. If you don't want, I don't want," he said in English during a televised address.

He then went back to Spanish to add that Venezuela will "continue with its economic path with or without sanctions." "We're not a gringo colony. No one is going to stop us, gringos," he added.

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