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Cyril Widdershoven

Cyril Widdershoven

Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently he works as a Senior Researcher at Hill Tower Resource Advisors. Next…

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Europe Eyes Venezuelan Oil in Diversification Drive

  • Legal settlements involving PDVSA pave the way for increased oil production and export, particularly to energy-needy Europe.
  • Venezuela's strategic position and vast oil reserves position it as a key player in the global oil market, offering Europe an alternative to Russian energy sources.
  • The developments promise economic revitalization for Venezuela and enhanced energy security for Europe amidst current global tensions.
Venezuelan Oil

The recent easing of sanctions between the United States and Venezuela, marked by pivotal legal settlements and new commercial arrangements, represents a significant turning point for the global energy industry.

These developments, particularly the resolution of disputes involving Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), signal the reinvigoration of Venezuela's oil and gas sector and hold substantial promise for energy-hungry Europe.

The settlement between PDVSA and Refineria di Kòrsou (RdK), navigated by Dentons Europe LLP - led by David Syed, head of their Sovereign Advisory practice - brings to an end a longstanding impasse that had stifled the operational potential of RdK's refinery and oil terminal in Curaçao since 2020. 

Under this settlement, PDVSA will resume the supply of crude oil to RdK and initiate discussions on long-term gas supply, enabling RdK to recommence its operations. This development is a win for PDVSA and RdK and a strategic move that reopens crucial pathways in the Caribbean energy landscape.

Furthermore, the collaboration between PDVSA and Repsol Exploración, S.A. to bolster investment in their joint venture, Petroquiriquire, S.A., heralds a new era of increased production in the Venezuelan oil and gas industry. 

A similar deal with ENI of Italy is imminently expected.

The intention to significantly boost overall production underlines a commitment to revitalize the national economy of Venezuela, a country with one of the world's largest oil reserves but whose potential has been largely untapped due to political and economic challenges.

For Europe, these developments couldn't be timelier. The continent benefits greatly, grappling with energy supply concerns exacerbated by geopolitical tensions and a push for diversification away from reliance on Russian energy sources. 

Venezuela's re-entry into the global oil and gas market as a significant player provides Europe with an alternative and potentially stable energy source. This could be instrumental in mitigating the current energy crisis and contributing to Europe's energy security.

Venezuela's strategic geographic location and colossal oil reserves make it an ideal candidate for European nations striving to diversify their energy sources. Venezuela boasts the world's largest proven oil reserves, exceeding even those of Saudi Arabia. 

According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela's proven oil reserves are estimated to be around 303.8 billion barrels, representing a significant portion of the global oil supply.

Before the sanctions and economic turmoil, Venezuela was producing about 2.4 million barrels per day. Though current production levels are significantly lower, there is potential for rapid growth given the country's abundant reserves.

Oil output has already increased significantly over the last year under the leadership of Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Oil Minister Pedro Rafael Tellechea.

As of 2021, the European Union's crude oil imports from Russia accounted for roughly 27% of its total oil imports, according to Eurostat. Replacing even a fraction of this with Venezuelan oil could significantly enhance Europe's energy security.


Moreover, Venezuela's location is advantageous for transatlantic trade. Its proximity to the Caribbean Sea provides direct maritime routes to European ports, potentially making oil and gas transportation more efficient and cost-effective compared to other global suppliers.

In essence, the sanctions relief deal and the subsequent legal and commercial maneuvers represent a recalibration of the global energy equation. For Venezuela, it marks a resurgence of its energy sector and a step towards economic recovery. For Europe, it offers a new avenue for securing energy resources, crucial for its economic stability and energy independence.


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  • George Doolittle on December 27 2023 said:
    Europe has an energy crisis but it has nothing to do with lacking in ahem *"oil security"* ahem quite the opposite Europe both East and West currently has a massive glut of both oil and refined product from processing oil into distillate fuels especially diesel fuel at the moment. In theory Europe could sell that fuel to the USA and make invaluable hard currency insoding.

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