A recent report published by OPEC discloses that Venezuela pumped 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, 20% less than the same month last year.
Excluding a short oil strike in 2003, this represents the country’s lowest output for almost 30 years. Under the terms of the current OPEC deal, the country is allowed to pump as much as 1.972 million bpd.
In the meantime, another recent report by S&P Global Platts says the PDVSA (Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company) is importing 335,000 bpd of Russian crude to supply its refinery on the Caribbean island of Curacao.
The Venezuelan economy is highly dependent on oil, with it representing 95% of its exports. Nevertheless, despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, corruption and decaying infrastructure has led to a decline in recent years, and the country faces a massive debt crisis.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also commented that the Trump administration is still considering banning Venezuelan oil exports to the US following criticism of President Maduro, who has excluded some opposition candidates from participating in April’s presidential election.
ExxonMobil, the oil producer behind Mobil distributors, has also been involved in a dispute with the Venezuelan government since its La Ceiba and Cerro Negro oil development ventures were seized as part of the country’s oil nationalisation. The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes originally awarded ExxonMobil $1.6bn in damages, but this was later reduced to $188m (£134m) on appeal.