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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Venezuelan Oil Production Could Further Collapse On New U.S. Sanctions

If the U.S. expands sanctions on Venezuela to include the oil industry and restricts U.S. exports of oil products that are crucial for diluting Venezuela’s extra-heavy oil, oil production in the country sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves would further collapse.

According to data by the EIA compiled by Bloomberg, Venezuela’s imports of heavy naphtha from the U.S.—all of which comes from Gulf Coast refineries—are some 2 million barrels per month.

Oil production in the Orinoco oil belt, responsible for half of Venezuela’s crude oil production of currently around 1.6 million bpd, depends on the imports of this heavy naphtha from the U.S., which is blended with the thick tar-like extra-heavy oil to allow it to flow through pipelines from Orinoco to Venezuela’s coasts for loading onto tankers.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. was considering extending sanctions against Venezuela to include imports of Venezuelan crude and exports of U.S. refined products to the troubled South American country. Currently, sanctions target separate individuals from the Nicolas Maduro government as well as a ban on U.S. banks and other institutions buying Venezuelan debt.

According to analysts, while a U.S. ban on Venezuelan oil imports could hurt U.S. refiners, restrictions on U.S. oil product exports to Venezuela could push Venezuela’s oil production off the cliff. Related: Despair In Venezuela: “We Are Dying Of Hunger In The Oil Industry”

“The impact of a naphtha shortage ultimately comes down to the operational integrity of the heavy oil upgraders in Venezuela,” Pablo Medina, vice president at Welligence Energy Analytics, told Bloomberg. “If the upgraders were to encounter operational issues or come offline, naphtha demand would increase significantly for heavy oil blending purposes,” Medina noted.

Maduro has been defiant commenting on possible oil sanctions against Venezuela, saying that “If the US puts an oil embargo on us, we will take our boat and go somewhere else.”

But in case of restrictions on U.S. exports to Venezuela, the Latin American country would have to either pay more for naphtha from other sources or see its oil production fall more steeply than predicted.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh G Salameh on February 26 2018 said:
    China which is owed more than $50 bn by Venezuela will not let Venezuela’s economy or its oil industry collapse.

    If the US expands sanctions on Venezuela to include the oil industry and restricts exports of oil products such as naphtha that are crucial for diluting Venezuela’s extra-heavy oil, China will provide these products rather than see Venezuela’s oil industry collapse.

    And with rising oil prices, Venezuela’s oil revenues are improving too enabling it to import naphtha from anywhere.

    And while the Maduro government is fully responsible for the dire state of Venezuela’s oil industry and the suffering of the Venezuelan people, the United States has a moral duty to help alleviate their suffering by refraining from continuing to impose sanctions on Venezuela.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • IG on February 27 2018 said:
    Because why join a cartel and cut your own oil production to spike price, when you can take down another country's industry and spike price at no expense to your own producers!

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