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Maduro Arrests Opposition Figures as Oil-Rich Guyana Readies for Invasion

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has issued arrest warrants for opposition politicians who are challenging a move to annex oil-rich Essequibo in a last-minute ploy to ensure his chances of maintaining the presidency against wildly falling popularity. 

Maduro has officially placed the disputed territory of oil-rich Essequibo under military jurisdiction, putting oil exploration and production operations of Exxon and Chevron at risk. 

Following a Sunday referendum, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has declared the return of Essequibo, which represents some two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, to Venezuela. 

According to T&T News, Venezuela’s Prosecutor's Office has issued arrest warrants for a dozen opposition members, including former National Assembly head Juan Guaido and three members of staff of opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado. The three are charged with conspiring against the Sunday referendum to annex Essequibo.

The recent temporary easing of U.S. oil sanctions on Venezuela were conditioned on the holding of free and fair elections in 2024.
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While the U.S. has offered Guyana “unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty”, there has been no concrete talk of reversing the easing of sanctions based on Maduro’s actions. 

Exxon, which is targeting 1.2 million barrels per day of crude output from Guyana’s offshore Stabroek oil block by the end of 2027, has refrained from commenting on the developing situation, telling journalists earlier this week only that it believes “border issues are matters for governments and appropriate international organizations to address”.

In a comment shared with IBT on Wednesday, Chevron said: "Chevron has a long history and excellent record of being a partner of choice in the countries in which we have operations. We always aim to be, and we are a constructive presence in the countries where we operate."

A consortium controlled by ExxonMobil holds a 45% in the Stabroek block, with Chevron, which recently acquired Hess, holding a 30% stake and China’s CNOOC holding a 25% stake. 

On Tuesday, Maduro vowed to begin handing out exploration and extraction licenses “immediately” and ordered full compliance from foreign oil companies operating in the area. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • George Doolittle on December 07 2023 said:
    No doubt makes China happy knowing this.

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