Venezuela—one of the world’s earliest and (at one time) largest oil producers, as well as a founding member of OPEC—could soon be producing close to zero barrels of oil, according to a new analysis by IHS Markit.
Venezuelan crude oil production is currently around 100,000 to 200,000 barrels per day (b/d) and falling. Production was around 650,000 b/d just a year ago and had been as high as 2 million barrels per day as recently as 2017. It is now conceivable that the country could soon be producing zero barrels, or very close to it.
Never before has a former major oil producing country seen output fall so low for so long. In Venezuela’s case, if there is any surprise it is that the disintegration did not happen faster.—Jim Burkhard, vice president and head of oil markets, IHS Markit
Never in the history of the oil industry has output from a former major producing country fallen so low. The country is now the third smallest producer among OPEC’s 13 members, just ahead of Equatorial Guinea and war-torn Libya.
Venezuela’s production fall—the product of decades of decline and decay—has been exacerbated more recently by the COVID-induced oil price collapse of 2020, US sanctions and limited domestic oil storage.
While the slide toward zero production is a historical milestone, Venezuela’s demise as an oil producer will have little to no impact on global oil markets given the much larger shifts in world oil demand and supply wrought by COVID-19 and its repercussions.