Venezuela’s crude oil production tumbled by nearly 200,000 bpd in June compared to May, to just 422,400 bpd on June 28, as Venezuela struggles to place its oil on the market due to the U.S. sanctions, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing official documents it had seen.
Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA saw its June production plunge by 32 percent last month, with output in the country holding the world’s largest oil reserves plummeting to its lowest level in 75 years in early June when it was just 374,000 bpd.
In the first half of June, production from the Orinoco oil belt slumped by 50 percent to just 148,000 bpd, according to the documents of PDVSA and the oil ministry seen by Bloomberg. In the Maracaibo basin, crude oil production plunged by 40 percent to 83,600 bpd.
The collapse in oil prices and the tightening U.S. sanctions against Venezuela have accelerated the decline of the oil industry in the country sitting on the largest crude oil reserves in the world.
As of May, Venezuela’s rig count plunged to just two, with just one active oil rig in the Orinoco belt, data from Baker Hughes shows, as production slipped by 16 percent to 645,700 bpd.
Venezuela’s oil industry was collapsing even before the oil price crash and the pandemic, due to the increasingly stricter sanctions in the U.S. maximum pressure campaign against Nicolas Maduro’s regime and its sources of revenues. Oil income is pretty much the only hard currency that Maduro gets, so the U.S. is looking to stifle as much of Venezuela’s oil trade as possible.
In addition, PDVSA is severely cash-strapped and hasn’t invested in the repair and maintenance of oil facilities and refineries in years.
Meanwhile, even the crude that Venezuela manages to pump out of the ground is not finding many willing customers. Oil tankers carrying at least 18.1 million barrels of Venezuelan oil are said to be currently idling at sea across the world unable to find buyers – some for as long as six months – as many potential and previous customers of Venezuela’s crude are not taking chances with delivery for fear of incurring secondary U.S. sanctions.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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