Chevron to Stay in Venezuela for ‘Many Years’ Despite Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. plans to stay the course in Venezuela despite the Latin American country’s deteriorating economy and growing humanitarian crisis, the oil major’s top executive for the region said.

“We’re committed to Venezuela and we plan to be there for many years to come,” Clay Neff, Chevron’s president for Africa and Latin America, said in an interview late Thursday. Any suggestion the company is considering leaving “is not accurate.”

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Venezuela’s worsening economic crisis was leading executives to consider quitting the country, as rivals Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips have done. Chevron is one of the largest foreign investors in Venezuela with stakes in several projects including Petropiar, a plant that converts tar-like, extra-heavy crude into lighter oils for refineries. It partners with state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA.

“We’ve been in the country for almost 100 years, we know how to operate, we’re a very experienced operator and we’re committed to our partner PDVSA,” Neff said.

Even so, the company warned of “deteriorating” economic conditions in the country in a U.S. regulatory filing on Thursday. “Future events could result in the environment in Venezuela becoming more challenged, which could lead to increased business disruption and volatility in the associated financial results.”

The comments came the same day the United Nations warned that 3 million Venezuelans already have fled the country to escape endemic food shortages, inflation and violence. Earlier this year, two Chevron employees were arrested amid a government clampdown on alleged corruption. They were released after about seven weeks.

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