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Total to Tough It Out in Venezuela Despite Challenges

Total to Tough It Out in Venezuela Despite ChallengesTotal to Tough It Out in Venezuela Despite Challenges

French oil major Total is sticking it out in Venezuela despite a near-economic collapse in the Latin American company, Total’s Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said at an oil summit in Paris on Thursday.

Hours after this statement, the European Union said it may impose even more sanctions on Venezuela unless there was a consensus on the “conditions for a credible and inclusive electoral process”, Oil Price reported.

The company is one of many that has operated in Venezuela, including British Petroleum, ExxonMobil, Chevron Corp, Eni, ConocoPhillips, Repsol SA and Statoil ASA. 

Two oil majors—Exxon and Conoco—gave up on Venezuela in mid-2000 after President Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, confiscated a 60% share in all oil projects in the country—whether they were owned and operated by foreign oil companies or not—and turned those shares over to its state-run oil company, PDVSA.  BP hung onto its smaller share in its projects for a couple of years, then sold it to its Russian affiliate, TNK-BP.

Oil majors Statoil and Repsol shuffled some employees (Repsol removed all employees) out of the country in April 2017 when safety concerns over civil unrest increased.

Chevron followed in August by pulling a small number of employees, as did Total, who still has some 50 employees there, Total’s website said. “Despite all the difficulties, Total remains in Venezuela. I can tell you it is difficult for our people because of lack of power, lack of water. We were obliged to take out families,” Pouyanne said.

Pouyanne added that one of its Venezuela fields has seen a reduction from 120,000 bpd to just 80,000 bpd because it lacks staff and money from its project partner—PDVSA.

“It is a pity because there is a huge potential, but there are not enough people to connect wells that have been drilled,” he said.

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