Venezuela’s Maduro Arrests Opposition Figures Challenging Guyana Region Annexation

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ignited controversy by issuing arrest warrants for opposition politicians challenging the annexation of the oil-rich Essequibo region. The move is seen as a last-ditch effort to shore up his diminishing popularity and secure his position in the presidency.

Maduro’s decision to place the disputed Essequibo under military jurisdiction has far-reaching consequences, particularly for oil exploration and production operations in the region. Exxon and Chevron, major players in the area, now face potential risks due to the heightened political tensions.

In a surprising turn of events following a Sunday referendum, Maduro declared the return of Essequibo to Venezuela, representing a significant portion of Guyana’s territory. The Venezuelan Prosecutor’s Office has subsequently issued arrest warrants for a dozen opposition members, including prominent figures like former National Assembly head Juan Guaido and three members of opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado’s staff. The charges include conspiracy against the Sunday referendum to annex Essequibo.

The timing of these developments is noteworthy, especially considering the recent temporary easing of U.S. oil sanctions on Venezuela. The relaxation of sanctions was contingent upon the commitment to hold free and fair elections in 2024, raising questions about the potential impact of Maduro’s actions on the sanctions.

While the United States has voiced “unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty,” concrete measures regarding the reversal of sanctions based on Maduro’s recent actions remain uncertain.

Threat to oil supply chain

Exxon, a key player targeting 1.2 million barrels per day of crude output from Guyana’s offshore Stabroek oil block by 2027, has refrained from commenting extensively on the evolving situation. In a brief statement earlier this week, the company emphasized that it views border issues as matters for governments and relevant international organizations to address.

Similarly, Chevron, holding a significant stake in the Stabroek block through its recent acquisition of Hess, expressed its commitment to being a constructive presence in the countries where it operates. In a comment shared with International Business Times, Chevron stated it “has a long history and excellent record of being a partner of choice in the countries in which we have operations.”

The consortium controlled by ExxonMobil, which holds a 45% stake in the Stabroek block, includes Chevron with a 30% stake and China’s CNOOC with a 25% stake. The geopolitical tensions in the region pose challenges for these international companies, requiring careful navigation amid the escalating situation.

Currently, Venezuela is still considered to hold the largest proven oil reserves in the world, close to 304 billion barrels.

On Tuesday, Maduro emphasized his intent to begin distributing exploration and extraction licenses “immediately” and ordered full compliance from foreign oil companies operating in the area. The unfolding events in Essequibo will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications, not only for Venezuela and Guyana but also for major global players in the oil industry.


Information for this briefing was found via Oilprice.com and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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