Caracas, Venezuela. (AP)


LatAmFocus: Venezuela's Energy Sector Primes for a Thaw

By Guillermo Zubillaga

The Baker Institute’s Francisco Monaldi covers what Washington’s plans for sanctions relief means for Venezuela’s oil sector and 2024 elections.

After years of stalemate, change could be afoot in Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro’s government and the opposition agreed on a deal that creates an electoral roadmap for the 2024 presidential election. In turn, Washington eased sanctions on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector for six months. That move could have big effects for Caracas, Washington, and—given global crises such as the Ukraine—the world.

Francisco Monaldi

"I estimate that instead of getting half a billion dollars per month, [Venezuela] will be getting closer to a billion dollars per month. So, it's a very important amount of money that Maduro could use to improve his electoral chances by spending money for electoral purposes," says Francisco Monaldi, director of Latin American energy policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute. He spoke to Guillermo Zubillaga, who heads AS/COA’s Venezuela Working Group, about how this easing of sanctions could “allow Western democracies to have another source [of oil and gas] that is not in the middle of two conflict regions,” referring to Russia and the Middle East.

Monaldi continued by discussing another development: opposition leader María Corina Machado won an October 22 primary with over 92 percent of the vote. The problem? She’s banned by the Venezuelan government from running for president. Her treatment by the Maduro regime could affect the prospects of further sanctions relief.

“Companies that might be considering investing or not in Venezuela also have a massive uncertainty,” Monaldi says. But in the longer-term, Monaldi says there isn’t much interest in Washington or Europe in returning to “what they consider the failed sanctions policy that didn't produce a political change in Venezuela.”

"Bottom line, I think in any scenario, we will see less a stringent sanctions regime in the future,” Monaldi says. “But, hopefully, the current license and the tools that the U.S. and the Europeans have, if they use them smartly, just might allow … Venezuela to become more democratic."

Production and text by Jon Orbach. Luisa Leme is the executive producer. Carin Zissis is the host. 

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Society/Council of the Americas or its members.