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Venezuelan Oil Sector Takes A Beating As Blackout Persists

The Venezuelan national Assembly, dominated by the opposition, declared a state of alarm over a blackout that the government blamed on a U.S. cyberattack and that plunged the struggling country into darkness and chaos for five days.

Reuters reports as of Monday there was electricity in most of the capital Caracas, but the rest of the country was still without power for the most part.

President Maduro said the blackout was instigated by the United States as part of a “demonic” plot seeking to remove him from power. The blackout, he said, was the result of an “electromagnetic attack.”

The blackout also aggravated the already dramatic situation with the country’s oil industry, with Argus Media reporting on Sunday Venezuela’s largest oil export terminal and crude oil processing complex in Jose were both shut down. Also, three heavy crude upgraders that PDVSA operates together with its joint venture partners were suspended, according to local sources, as well as several petrochemical plants.

The blackout started at a 10GW hydroelectric facility, the Guri complex, and spread through a 765 kW transmission line to central Venezuela, leaving many with no power and water, as water supply systems also rely on the grid.

The president of the National Assembly urged people to continue protesting against the government, blaming it for the blackout, which he called a catastrophe.

Related: Two Largest Oil Price Benchmarks Are Set To Diverge

"We all know who is responsible and we need to find solutions. We need to take action together in the street," Juan Guaido said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, yesterday the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the country is withdrawing all its diplomatic staff from its Caracas embassy.

“This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of US diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on US policy,” Pompeo said in a tweet.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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