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Venezuela's Maduro calls for 'complete lifting' of oil sanctions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela's president has called on the US to fully lift its sanctions on the country's oil sector, saying the easing of an oil embargo on his country by the United States was not enough.

Speaking at a press conference, Nicolas Maduro called Washington's move a step in the "right direction."

But the move was "not enough for what Venezuela demands, which is the complete lifting" of sanctions against its oil industry, he said.

Over the weekend, the United States granted energy giant Chevron a license to resume some oil operations in Venezuela.

The move came after the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the country's opposition reached a long-delayed "social protection agreement" aimed at easing the drawn-out political and humanitarian situation in the country.

The agreement focused on education, health, food security, flood response, and electricity programs.

The country began going through a downward spiral of poverty as well as social and developmental stagnation in 2018, when the West -- led by the United States -- and its favored Venezuelan opposition contested Maduro's victory in presidential elections.

Following the election, Western countries began slapping Caracas with a slew of sanctions, which have been responsible for spawning the dire economic situation in the country. Millions have fled Venezuela since the onset of the crisis, the United Nations estimates.

"The idea of removing Venezuela from the world's economic circuit was a bad idea, an extremist idea by [former US president] Donald Trump, and they are paying for it, because Venezuela is part of the global energy equation," Maduro said.

"No matter what, we have to be there, we are a great oil power and we are going to be a gas power," he concluded.

International efforts to resolve the Venezuelan crisis have gained strength since Russia's war of Ukraine, which paced pressure on global energy supplies.

Washington's apparent efforts to gratify Caracas comes amid the West's struggle to wean itself off Russian oil supplies.

The Russian oil flow has been majorly disrupted since February -- when Moscow began its war on its neighbor Ukraine -- either as a result of Western sanctions or limits imposed by Russia, itself, on its outbound crude supplies.

Venezuela's production, which two decades ago was 3.2 million bpd, remains stagnant at around 700,000 bpd this year, according to OPEC.

The United States imported nearly 700,000 bpd from Russia in 2021, according to its energy agency, a quota seems to be impossible to cover due to Venezuela's lean production capacity. 

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