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At a Hotel in Caracas, Oil Executives Weigh a Return to Venezuela

Promises of more autonomy to tap the world’s biggest crude reserves are drawing the oil industry to meetings with the Nicolas Maduro regime.

A sculpture outside of the Petroleos de Venezuela SA headquarters in Caracas.

A sculpture outside of the Petroleos de Venezuela SA headquarters in Caracas.

Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

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Inside a chic lounge, oil lobbyists and executives rub shoulders as Spanish, French and Italian can be heard in the halls. This isn’t the ZaZa boutique hotel in Houston, where global energy top brass like to stay. It’s the Cayena Hotel in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

Drawn by promises of privatization and more autonomy to tap the world’s biggest crude reserves, they’re meeting with the Nicolas Maduro regime and state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA to best position themselves when doing business there is possible again. Bigger producers like Chevron Corp., France’s Total SE and Italy’s Eni SpA would probably wait until U.S. sanctions are lifted, but smaller players might get started whenever new rules opening up the industry for private enterprise take effect.