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US energy company Chevron aims to increase oil production in Venezuela by 65,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of next year, reported Reuters, citing sources.

The increased production is expected to accelerate Chevron’s effort to recover $3bn in debt and unpaid dividends from its projects in the South American nation. 

Currently, the joint venture between Venezuela state-backed PDVSA and Chevron produces roughly 135,000 bpd.

In 2023, the companies will have exported an average of 124,000 bpd, the news agency reported, citing shipping data and independent estimates. 

Current oil flows represent a 70% increase in comparison with the average output in 2022.

The projects operated by Chevron-PDVSA have contributed to nearly all of Venezuela’s 70,000 bpd boost in output so far in 2023.

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However, to further increase output, the companies will have to deploy specialised rigs for drilling, which could be hard to find in Venezuela, the sources said.

As part of the plan, Chevron will install at least two drilling rigs.

Initially, the rig will be deployed at the Petroindependencia development in the Orinoco Belt, which is the country’s key oil-production region, one of the sources said.

According to sources, Reuters reported that Chevron’s drilling plan will not require new approvals from the US authorities as the areas are covered in the existing licence, which Chevron received in November 2022.

The US company, however, will require an oilfield services provider to supply 1,000-1,500 horsepower rigs, which could be difficult to procure, the source added.

The US licence places restrictions on US oil service companies in Venezuela, allowing them to only maintain their current assets and personnel there.

To import new machinery or enter into agreements with PDVSA or its partner ventures, they require US authorisation.

Requests for comments from PDVSA did not elicit a response and the US Treasury declined to comment on the development. 

Chevron said it is complying with laws and regulations as well as the sanctions framework of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Some of the companies have attempted to have Washington extend their licence but to no avail. If not renewed, it will expire in November. 

Chevron must either engage local contractors, who have restricted access to contemporary equipment or wait for a change to the licences of the US companies.