Oil Majors Pulling Out of Crisis-Ridden Venezuela

Oil Majors Pulling Out of Crisis-Ridden VenezuelaOil Majors Pulling Out of Crisis-Ridden Venezuela

Spain's Repsol SA has pulled all foreign workers from its oilfields in Venezuela amid a deepening political crisis, while Chevron and Total have removed a small number of employees, said people with knowledge of the companies.

Norway’s Statoil ASA has withdrawn its expatriate staff.

Repsol field workers left the country in the past few weeks, two people said, asking not to be identified discussing a confidential matter. A skeleton staff remains in Caracas, one of the people said, Bloomberg reported.

Chevron has removed fewer than 10 foreign employees and retains a substantial expatriate workforce there, said people with knowledge who were not authorized to discuss the operations.

"Statoil withdrew its last three foreign workers before the July 30 election," Erik Haaland, a company spokesman, said.

The departure of workers will be a concern to the government because oil output, which has tumbled over the past two years, accounts for 95% of Venezuela’s foreign-currency earnings.

Repsol gets about 10% of its production from the country, where it owns a stake in the Carabobo heavy oilfield. The Spanish company also is a partner in the Perla project, Latin America’s largest offshore gas deposit, together with Eni SpA.

A spokesman for Rome-based Eni said the company is keeping only essential expatriate personnel in the country.

"It is not currently considering an evacuation but continues to monitor the situation," the spokesman said.

Several Chevron expatriates, who were traveling outside of Venezuela, have been told not to immediately return, according to one of the people.

Employees whose assignments were scheduled to end within the next six months had their contracts cut short and some were asked to do Venezuela-related work remotely from the US or other countries, the person said.

Total, the French oil giant, removed more than 10 staff members, including five managers. Employees will be allowed to return to Venezuela if the situation improves, the person added.

Repsol still has Venezuelan citizens working at its operations, one of the people said, without specifying how many foreign staff had been in the country.

"Statoil also still has Venezuelans at its sites," Haaland said.

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