If Guaidó comes to power and privatizes PDVSA, U.S. oil companies — with Chevron and Halliburton leading the pack — stand to make record profits in the world’s most oil-rich nation, as they did in Iraq following the privatization of its national oil industry after U.S. intervention.
by Whitney Webb
For much of the past twenty years, critics of U.S. foreign policy have noted that it is often countries with sizeable oil reserves that most often find themselves the targets of U.S.-backed “humanitarian” interventions aimed at “restoring democracy.” Analysis of the nearly two-decades-long U.S. effort aimed at regime change and “democracy promotion” in Venezuela has long linked such efforts to the fact that the South American country has the world’s largest proven oil reserves.
However, the current U.S. effort to topple the government led by Chavista politician Nicolás Maduro has become notable for the openness of the “coup architects” in admitting that putting American corporations – Chevron and Halliburton chief among them — in charge of Venezuelan oil resources is the driving factor behind this aggressive policy.
Last week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – a key player in the Trump administration’s push for regime change in Caracas – tweeted: “Biggest [American] buyers of Venezuelan oil are Valero Energy & Chevron. Refining heavy crude from Venezuela supports great jobs in Gulf Coast. For the sake of these U.S. workers I hope they will begin working with administration of President [Juan] Guaidó & cut off illegitimate Maduro regime.”
In January, the U.S. government recognized Juan Guaidó of the U.S.-funded and CIA-linked Popular Will Party as the “legitimate” president of the country.
A few hours after Rubio’s tweet, National Security Adviser John Bolton — who actively supported the U.S.-backed failed Venezuela coup in 2002 — appeared on Fox News and told host Trish Regan the following: “We’re looking at the oil assets. That’s the single most important income stream to the government of Venezuela. We’re looking at what to do to that.”
Though that was a stunning admission in and of itself, Bolton didn’t stop there. He continued: “We’re in conversation with major American companies now that are either in Venezuela, or in the case of Citgo here in the United States. I think we’re trying to get to the same end result here…. It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
Bolton’s statements have garnered considerable attention in the alternative media community for their boldness, since leaked cables and documents have traditionally been the means through which the actual motivations of U.S. wars have been revealed.
Largely overlooked, however, is the fact that Bolton stated that the Trump administration is working closely “with major American companies now that are either in Venezuela, or in the case of Citgo, here in the United States.” Given that Citgo is largely owned by Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), Bolton’s statement reveals that the corporations backing Washington’s regime-change push are those currently operating in Venezuela.
At present, there are only two American major oil and oil service companies with a significant presence in Venezuela – Chevron and Halliburton. However, Chevron is by far the leading American investor in Venezuelan oil projects, with Halliburton having written off much of its remaining business interests in the country just last year — losing hundreds of millions of dollars as a result.
These two companies have long been “historic partners” and have had a solid business relationship between them for decades. In addition, both have reaped the benefits of past U.S. interventions abroad — such as the Iraq War, where the U.S. government “opened” that country’s nationalized oil industry to American oil companies with military force.
Now with Venezuela’s nationalized oil industry in the crosshairs, Chevron and Halliburton are again set to benefit from Washington’s regime-change policies abroad. Furthermore, as Bolton’s recent statements suggest, these companies are also the top corporate sponsors of the current U.S.-backed coup to topple the government in Caracas.