Venezuelan officials, Chevron execs hold closed-door meetings

Boards outside PDVSA headquarters are pictured, during a news conference on the Chevron deal in Caracas, Venezuela, December 2, 2022. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/File Photo

HOUSTON/CARACAS, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Venezuelan officials and executives from U.S. oil company Chevron Corp (CVX.N) held a private meeting on Wednesday at one of their joint ventures to discuss operations and management, but workers were left out, three sources close to the matter said.

In November, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a license to Chevron to expand operations in Venezuela, part of Washington's effort to encourage talks between President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition toward an election in 2023. The U.S. government called Maduro's 2018 re-election a sham.

Venezuela's oil minister, Tareck El Aissami, president of state company PDVSA, Asdrubal Chavez, and the head of Chevron's Venezuela unit, Javier La Rosa, had planned this week to address workers of the four joint ventures shared by PDVSA and Chevron, to communicate operational and management changes following the U.S. license, sources close to the preparations said.

The first meeting with workers was planned to be held at joint venture Petropiar in the Orinoco Belt oil region. But after last-minute changes to the agenda, executives and officials opted for a closed-door encounter.

The second of those private meetings is planned for Thursday at the site of the Petroboscan joint venture in western Venezuela, two of the sources added.

A Chevron spokesperson declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on commercial matters.

PDVSA did not immediately reply to requests for comment. It was unclear whether new general managers at some joint ventures were appointed, as planned.

Joint-venture employees, who are paid by PDVSA according to Venezuelan laws, are expected to continue working under the same terms, a situation that has infuriated some union leaders who claim the staff needs higher salaries amid hyperinflation and devaluation in Venezuela.

PDVSA and Chevron are in talks to expand benefits and encourage better performance at facilities, especially at the Petropiar upgrader, which is expected to supply heavy crude to the United States, the sources said.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston, Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela, and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas; Editing by Matthew Lewis and David Gregorio

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