Venezuela: Juan Guaido will open up oil deals to foreign private companies, opposition leader’s US envoy says

New government would move South American country to open economy, Carlos Vecchio says

Tom Embury-Dennis
Tuesday 05 February 2019 15:43
Juan Guaidó declares himself interim president of Venezuela

Venezuela’s government-in-waiting will allow foreign private oil companies a greater stake in joint ventures with its state-owned oil giant, Juan Guaido’s envoy to the US has said.

Currently, Venezuela’s socialist government has requirements that Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) keep a controlling stake in any joint ventures with other energy companies.

But Carlos Vecchio, a representative for National Assembly leader Mr Guaido, who has been recognised by the US as the interim leader of Venezuela, told Bloomberg Mr Guaido's government would look to open up the economy to increase oil production.

“The majority of the oil production that we want to increase will be with the private sector,” he said on Monday.

Venezuela under Mr Guaido would honour all “legal” and “financial” debt, Mr Vecchio said, but suggested it may not honour debt agreements signed by the current regime under Nicolas Maduro in which the country pays creditors with oil.

The UK, US, Canada and several Latin American and EU countries have disavowed Mr Maduro over his disputed re-election last year and recognised Mr Guaido, the national assembly president, as the country’s rightful leader.

Mr Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans, is still backed by Russia, China and Turkey, and has the critical support of the military.

Amid an escalating row between countries who support Mr Maduro and those who oppose him, Donald Trump over the weekend raised the prospect of sending US troops to the South American country.

Russia soon responded, warning against “destructive meddling” by the international community.

US national security advisor John Bolton announces Venezuela sanctions

Last week, the Trump administration issued crippling sanctions on PDVSA, a key source of revenue for the oil-dependent nation, whose population is experiencing malnutrition and medicine shortages.