Outside of times of war, there’s no parallel to what the oil market is seeing out of Venezuela. Getting a precise picture of Venezuela’s output is difficult, given the figures are highly politicised. But the scale of collapse is immense.
Production has fallen by 1m barrels a day to 1.7m b/d—a drop of nearly 40% since president Nicolás Maduro took office in April 2013, according to figures the country reports to Opec. A major chunk of that—around 600,000 b/d-was from 2017 alone as conditions around the oil industry deteriorated. Secondary market sources, which rely largely on tracking tankers, paint an even starker portrait, putting output at around 1.6m b/d. Even that, however, may overstate true production levels. Some close to the industry say that 1.6m b/d figure double-counts certain barrels that are used to dilute Orinoco heavy oil exports, and actual production could be below 1.5m b/d.