On November 16, 2023, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued two new general licenses under Venezuela Sanction Regulations (“VSR”), 31 CFR part 591 and published new Frequently Asked Questions 1141 – 1144. General License 8M was issued to temporarily enable four named companies and their subsidiaries to engage in transactions that involve Petróleos de Venezuela, SA (PdVSA) that are necessary to the limited maintenance of essential operations, contract, or other agreements that i) are for safety or the preservation of assets in Venezuela; ii) involve PdVSA or any entity in which the PdVSA owns a 50 percent or greater interest; and iii) were in effect prior to July 26, 2019. The transactions permitted by GL 8M are authorized until May 16, 2024.
OFAC also issued General License 45A to authorize certain transactions necessary to and exclusively for the repatriation of Venezuelan nationals from non-US jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere to Venezuela, which involve Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronáuticas y Servicios Aéreos, SA (“Conviasa”) or entities in which Conviasa owns a 50 percent or greater interest. The new FAQs further clarify the provisions in GL 45A. FAQ 1142 confirms that US persons are authorized to provide general maintenance services to blocked Conviasa aircraft listed in the Annex of GL 45A, and FAQ 1143 defines the term “non-commercial” as used in the general license. FAQ 1141 makes clear that GL 45A permits US persons to provide certain services, including refueling services, to certain blocked Conviasa aircraft listed in the Annex of GL 45A that are providing flights for the exclusive purpose of repatriating Venezuelan nationals from third countries in the Western Hemisphere to Venezuela. According to FAQ 1144, the services permitted in FAQ 1141 extend to non-commercial fights between third countries in the Western Hemisphere and Venezuela.
On the same day, OFAC published an updated version of “Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Suspension of Certain US Sanctions with Respect to Venezuela on October 18, 2023.” The update confirms that US persons may continue to rely upon existing general licenses, including GL 8M, to engage in transactions related to Venezuela’s oil and gas sectors despite the more expansive authorizations provided in Venezuela General License 44.