Oil production from Venezuela is at its lowest in decades

Crude oil production from the OPEC member is about 20 percent below the average from 2016.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 7, 2018 at 8:33 AM
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Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Crude oil production from Venezuela in January was at its lowest point in more than 10 years and is likely to continue its decline, an industry report found.

Secondary sources reporting to economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said member state Venezuela produced on average 1.7 million barrels of oil per day in December, down from the 2016 average of around 2.1 million barrels of oil.

Commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts reported January production from Venezuela declined another 60,000 barrels per day to reach a low not seen since labor strikes hit the nation's oil sector in the early 2000s.

"Not counting strike-affected months, Venezuela's production was last this low in June 1988, almost 30 years ago," the Platts report read.

Venezuelan oil production has been on a steady decline and Platts reported it's expected to continue because of the mounting pressures from civil unrest, a high debt and U.S. sanctions that limit financing for the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA.

The U.S. government in December slapped sanctions on Venezuelan government and military officials in response to allegations of corruption and repression during the tenure of President Nicolas Maduro.

In late January, the International Monetary Fund said it expected inflation in Venezuela could increase by as much as 13,000 percent in 2018. Maduro's government has attempted to control inflation by refusing to loosen foreign-exchange controls and price caps that have led to shortages for staples from food to medicine.

Venezuela's real gross domestic product is projected to fall by about 15 percent for a cumulative GDP decline of almost 50 percent since 2013.

On a tour of Latin America during the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed mounting concern about political affairs in Venezuela. Maduro, widely criticized from Washington for his stance on democracy, is up for re-election this year and Tillerson openly questioned the durability of his leadership.

Reiterating additional pressures considered at least since last year, the secretary said targeting one of Venezuela's top sources of revenue -- crude oil -- was still under consideration in Washington.

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