Desperate for Oil, Biden Looks To Ease Trump-Era Sanctions on Socialist Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro announces Security Measures against Coronavirus in Venezuela
Nicolas Maduro / Getty Images
October 6, 2022

In a scramble to bring oil prices down, the Biden administration is looking to ease Trump-era sanctions on the socialist regime of Venezuela so Chevron Corp. can resume pumping oil there, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Just before leaving office, former president Donald Trump ordered Chevron to stop operations in the crisis-wracked country, the last of several steps by Trump's White House to push the authoritarian government to end its 20-year socialist rule. The Biden administration will lift these sanctions if Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro agrees to resume discussions with his opposition party about holding a fair presidential election in 2024.

The negotiations come a day after OPEC, the Saudi Arabia-led oil cartel, announced significant cuts to its global oil supply, a move that frustrated the Biden administration and will likely raise gas prices. The Biden administration is now in panic mode to find a solution to rising gas prices before the midterm elections.

The details of the arrangement are not settled yet and the deal could still fall through, Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told the Journal.

"There are no plans to change our sanctions policy without constructive steps from the Maduro regime," Watson said.

But critics of Biden's deal say the current terms let Maduro off with few concessions and upset his fiercest opposition. Others say the deal will help boost the supply of oil in the global market long-term, but the Venezuelan oil fields are so deteriorated it is unlikely they will significantly impact the global supply in the next two years.