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Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro announced 30 days of electricity rationing after a third blackout hit the struggling South American country. The Associated Press quotes Maduro as saying on Sunday the rationing would help the government deal with the blackouts that have also affected adversely water supply and communications.
They also sparked protests, reinforced by calls to people to take to the streets by National Assembly president and opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido called on Venezuelans to go out and protest the lack of basic services caused by the blackouts. Maduro, for his part, has blamed the first major blackout that sank Venezuela into darkness for days on the U.S., calling it a sabotage attempt seeking to topple him from power.
According to local reports, the police were peaceful but groups of Maduro supporters called colectivos had been dispersing protesters in some parts of Caracas with threats and gun shots. Maduro has called on the colectivos and other government supports to keep the peace amid the blackouts.
The blackouts are the latest in a host of woes for the sanction-stricken country. The first one crippled the already ailing economy and paralyzed Venezuela’s oil industry. So did the second one, which shut down the country’s most important oil export terminal, the port of Jose, temporarily suspending vital shipments of oil amid a shrinking client base.
This may shrink further as reports emerged last week that Washington was pressuring commodity traders to stop buying Venezuelan crude even if the deals were not in violation of the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.
The blackouts are also wreaking havoc on production—already in decline—as the heavy crude upgraders that turn Venezuela’s extra heavy oil into a liquid transportable by tankers also shut down where there is no power. Backup generation capacity has proven difficult to come by judging by the fact that the second outage shut down Jose and the upgraders for several days.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.