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Chevron's output gains in Venezuela limited by political risk, CEO says

FILE PHOTO: Michael Wirth, Chairman and CEO Chevron Corp., speaks during an interview on the NYSE in New York

By Sabrina Valle

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Chevron Corp is producing about 90,000 barrels per day from its Venezuelan oil joint ventures, nearly double the daily output in 2022, Chief Executive Officer Michael Wirth said on Tuesday, warning that political risks could limit further gains.

The largest U.S. producer still operating in Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions, has returned some employees to operations in the South American country under an authorization from Washington.

Output is running at about 90,000 bpd, compared to the 50,000 bpd before the easing last year of the U.S. sanctions. Chevron received a six-month U.S. license last November that can be automatically renewed monthly.

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But Chevron's production from Venezuela could remain modest, Wirth said, with the result of future elections still a factor.

"I would expect us to go slow" in Venezuela, Wirth told analysts during the company's annual investor day, adding that output "is a little bit higher than that (90,000 bpd) probably today."

The company has exported the oil to its own U.S. refineries as well as those of other companies since January. Chevron was on track to ship more than 100,000 bpd of Venezuelan crude to the United States this month, according to shipping documents and data seen by Reuters.

Wirth said the shift in policy by the U.S. government is relatively recent and the company could face challenges when the next elections are held in Venezuela. The country's 2020 parliamentary elections were boycotted by the largest opposition parties and widely branded as fraudulent by Western nations.

The United States, which has had a hostile relationship with socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, has said it wants the country to hold new elections open to all candidates, including members of the opposition.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Paul Simao)