History of the Venezuelan oil industry

Economists say that the Venezuelan governments overspending on social programs and strict business policies contributed to imbalances in the countrys economy, contributing to rising inflation, poverty, low healthcare spending andshortages in Venezuelagoing into the final years of his presidency.[26][30][31][36][41][47]

Political risks focus attention on supply of Venezuelan oil to the United States. U.S. Energy Information Administration. January 22, 2013

By 1940 Venezuela was the third largest producer of crude oil in the world with more than 27 million tonnes per year – just slightly less than the production in the USSR.[16]In 1941,Isaas Medina Angarita, a former army general from the VenezuelanAndes, was indirectly elected president. One of his most important reforms during his tenure was the enactment of the new Hydrocarbons Law of 1943. This new law was the first major political step taken toward gaining more government control over its oil industry. Under the new law, the government took 50% of profits.[8][17]Once passed, this piece of legislation basically remained unchanged until 1976, the year of nationalization, with only two partial revisions being made in 1955 and 1967.[citation needed]

At the time of Chvezs election, OPEC had lost much of its influence compared to when it was first created. A combination ofOPECmembers, including Venezuela, regularly ignoring quotas and non-OPEC countries such as Mexico and Russia beginning to expand on their own petroleum industries resulted in record low oil prices to which hurt the Venezuelan economy. One of Chvezs main goals as president was to combat this problem by re-strengthening OPEC and getting countries to once again abide by their quotas. Chvez personally visited many of the leaders of oil producing nations around the world, and in 2000, he hosted the first summit of the heads-of-state of OPEC in 25 years (the second ever).[14]Goals of this meeting, held inCaracas, included recuperating the credibility of Venezuela in OPEC, defending oil prices, consolidating relations between Venezuela and the Arab/Islamic world, and to strengthen OPEC in general.[citation needed]

Sheridan Titman,The Future Oil Production in Venezuela, blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu, 23 March 2010.

Venezuelanalysis.com.Venezuelas economy shows strong signs of recovery after lock-out/strike

(online ed.). New York: Nation Books. pp.4041.ISBN1568584180.

Pdvsa is the governments piggy-bank, a U.S. official says.

Well before 1976, Venezuela had taken several steps in the direction of nationalization of its oil industry. In August 1971, under the presidency ofRafael Caldera, a law was passed that nationalized the countrys natural gas industry. Also in 1971 the law of reversion was passed which stated that all the assets, plant, and equipment belonging to concessionaires within or outside the concession areas would revert to the nation without compensation upon the expiration of the concession.[8]The movement towards nationalism was experienced once again under decree 832. Decree 832 stipulated that all exploration, production, refining, and sales programs of the oil companies had to be approved in advance by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons.[8]

Following the strikes, Chvez referred to regaining control of the industry as re-nationalization. He aimed at improving the efficiency of PDVSA in the context of distributing a greater amount of its revenues to his government and also by certain changes in taxation. Certain tax reforms had already been implemented earlier in Chvezs first term.[14]By 2006, the government had a 40 percent share, which was announced to be increased by 20 percent.[citation needed]

The meeting could be considered a success given the record high oil prices of the following years, but much of that is also a consequence of the11 September 2001 attacksagainst theUnited States, theIraq War, and the significant increase in demand for oil from developing economies likeChinaandIndia, which helped prompt a surge in oil prices to levels far higher than those targeted by OPEC during the preceding period. In addition to these events, the December 2002 oil strike in Venezuela, which resulted in a loss of almost 3mmbpd of crude oil production, brought a sharp increase in world prices of crude.[37]

Financial TimesWorld Desk Reference

Suburban Emergency Management Project, History of Venezuelas Oil and Rentier Economy, Suburban Emergency Management Project.

.Brookings Institution Press. p.7.ISBN0815725930.

Egan, Matt (12 July 2016).Why Venezuelas oil production plunged to a 13-year low.

A few months after the failure of the coup and the return of Chavez, a combination of labor unions and business groups called for an indefinite national strike which, in many places, turned out to be a forced bosses lock out where the employees were prevented from working.[citation needed]When the strike ended, substantial macroeconomic damage had been done with unemployment up by 5 percent. This increase brought the country to a national unemployment peak of over 20 percent in March 2003.[43]

Venezuelas historic inflation rate beside annual oil revenues.

Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez.

Despite the knowledge of the existence of oil reserves in Venezuela for centuries, the first oil wells of significance were not drilled until the early 1910s. In 1908,Juan Vicente Gmezreplaced his ailing predecessor,Cipriano Castro, as the president of Venezuela. Over the next few years, Gmez granted several concessions to explore, produce, and refine oil. Most of these oil concessions were granted to his closest friends, and they in turn passed them on to foreign oil companies that could actually develop them.[8]One such concession was granted to Rafael Max Valladares who hired Caribbean Petroleum Company (later acquired byRoyal Dutch Shell) to carry out his oil exploration project. On 15 April 1914, upon the completion of theZumaque-I(now called MG-I) oil well, the first Venezuelan oilfield of importance,Mene Grande, was discovered by Caribbean Petroleum in theMaracaibo Basin.[7]This major discovery encouraged a massive wave of foreign oil companies to Venezuela in an attempt to get a piece of the action.

By the mid-1950s, however, Middle Eastern countries had started contributing significant amounts of oil to the international petroleum market, and the United States had implemented oil import quotas. The world experienced an over-supply of oil, and prices plummeted.[citation needed]

Siegel, Robert (25 December 2014).For Venezuela, Drop In Global Oil Prices Could Be Catastrophic. NPR

Dragon in the Tropics: The Legacy of Hugo Chvez

The workers asked for a miserable salary increase and those blond, blue-eyed men who own millions of dollars, pounds and gulden in European and U.S. banks, refused.

Venezuelas economy: Medieval policies.

In 2005, PDVSA opened its first office in China, and announced plans to nearly triple its fleet of oil tankers in that region. Chvez had long stated that he would like to sell more Venezuelan oil to China so his country can become more independent of the United States. In 2007, Chvez struck a deal with Brazilian oil companyPetrobrasto build an oil refinery in northeastern Brazil where crude oil will be sent from both Brazil and Argentina. A similar deal was struck with Ecuador where Venezuela agreed to refine 100,000 barrels (16,000m3) of crude oil from Ecuador at discount prices.Cubaagreed to let thousands of Venezuelans be received for medical treatment and health programs, and in turn, Venezuela agreed to sell several thousands of barrels to Cuba at a 40% discount underPetrocaribeprogram.[citation needed]

The South American countrys oil output hit a 28-year low in October as state-owned oil giant PDVSA struggled to find the funds to drill wells, maintain oilfields and keep pipelines and ports working … Venezuela pumped 1.863 million bpd in October

.Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Monthly Commentary.

Venezuelais one of the worlds largestexporters of oiland has the worlds largestproven oil reservesat an estimated 296.5 billion barrels (20% of global reserves) as of 2012.

Chvez began setting goals of reinstating quotas, such as ten percent of PDVSAs annual investment budget was to be spent on social programs.[40]He also changed tax policies and the oil revenue collection process.[14]Chavez initiated many of these major changes to exert more control overPDVSAand efficiently deal with the problems he and his supporters had over PDVSAs small revenue contributions to the government. By 2002, warnings grew of the Chvez overspending on social programs in order to maintainpopulistsupport.[41]

The Chvez administration used high oil prices in the 2000s on his populist policies and to gain support from voters.[26][41]The social works initiated by Chvezs government relied onoil products, the keystone of the Venezuelan economy, with Chvezs administration suffering fromDutch diseaseas a result.[26][44]

It was theblowoutof theBarroso No. 2well inCabimasin 1922[9]that marked the beginning of Venezuelas modern history as a major producer. This discovery captured the attention of the nation and the world. Soon dozens of foreign companies acquired vast tracts of territory in the hope of striking it rich, and by 1928 Venezuela became the worlds leading oil exporter.[10]Oil ended Venezuelas relative anonymity in the eyes of world powers, making it a linchpin of an ever-expanding international oil industry and a new consideration in global policymaking.[10]Venezuelas oil production became a major factor in policy making in Washington before the Second World War.[10]

Cunningham, Nick.Desperate to Boost Oil Production, Venezuela Moves to Devalue Currency.

Venezuelan Oil Politics at the Crossroads

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Meredith, Sam (July 10, 2017).OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts can go longer and deeper if necessary, says Russia energy minister. CNBC

TheIndigenous peoples in Venezuela, like many ancient societies already utilized crudeoilsand asphalts frompetroleum seeps, which ooze through the ground to the surface, in the years before the Spanish conquistadors. The thick black liquid, known to the locals asmene, was primarily used for medical purposes, as an illumination source, and for the caulking of canoes.[7]

Aslund, Anders (May 2, 2017).Venezuela Is Heading for a Soviet-Style Collapse. Foreign Policy

One day some Spaniards mounted a dark apparatus on three legs, a grotesque stork with crystal eyes. They drew something (on a piece of paper) and opened their way through the forest. Other new Spaniards would open roadswould drill the earth from the top of fantastic towers, producing the fetid fluidthe liquid gold converted into petroleum.

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The Nationalization of the Venezuelan Oil Industry

Gramer, Robbie (26 January 2017).Venezuela Is So Broke It Cant Even Export Oil.

However, the efficiency of PDVSA was brought into question over these years. During 19761992, the amount of PDVSAs income that went towards the companys costs was on average 29 percent leaving a remainder of 71 percent for the government. From 1993 to 2000, however, that distribution almost completely reversed, to where 64 percent of PDVSAs income were kept by PDVSA, leaving a remainder of only 36 percent for the government.[25]

Oil: Venezuela and the Persian Gulf

From 1914 to 1917, several more oil fields were discovered across the country including the emblematicBolivar Coastal Field; howeverWorld War Islowed significant development of the industry. Due to the difficulty in purchasing and transporting the necessary tools and machinery, some oil companies were forced to forego drilling until after the war. By the end of 1917, the first refining operations began at the San Lorenzo refinery to process the Mene Grande field production, and the first significant exports of Venezuelan oil by Caribbean Petroleum left from the San Lorenzo terminal. By the end of 1918, petroleum appeared for the first time on the Venezuelan export statistics at 21,194 metric tons.[7]

.Dorling Kindersley. pp.618621.ISBN53.

Pourcelot, Jean-Philippe (April 6, 2017).Venezuela Commodities March 2017. Focus Economies

In December 2002, PDVSA officially went on strike creating a near-complete halt on oil production in Venezuela. The aim of theVenezuelan general strike of 2002-2003was to pressure Chvez into resigning and calling early elections. The strike lasted approximately two and a half months, and the government ended up firing 12,000 PDVSA employees and replacing them with workers loyal to the Chvez government, many of whom came out of retirement to replace the fired.[42]By January 2002, protests involving hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans opposing Chvez became common in Venezuela.[38]In April 2002, mass demonstrations occurred in Caracas and Chvez was temporarily overthrown by the military during the2002 Venezuelan coup dtat attempt.

International Monetary Fund: Data & Statistics(1980-2008, 2015)

Post-Chavez, Venezuela Enters a Downward Spiral.

. New York,NY:PraegerISBN978-0-275-92823-0.

U.S.-Venezuela relations since the 1990s: coping with mid-level security threats

Corrales, Javier (7 March 2013).The House That Chavez BuiltForeign Policy

Independent Statistics and Analysis

By 1929, the dramatic development of the Venezuela oil industry had begun to dominate all other economic sectors in the country, however, agricultural production began to decrease dramatically.[14][15]This sudden increase of attention to oil and neglect of the agrarian sector caused the Venezuelan economy to suffer from a phenomenon which later became known as theDutch Disease. This disease occurs when acommoditybrings a substantial increase of income in one sector of the economy, causing a strengthening of currency which in turn harms exports of manufacturing and other sectors.[14]

Venezuela production of crude oil inoil barrels, 1950-2012

Scharfenberg, Ewald (1 February 2015).Volver a ser pobre en Venezuela. El Pais

Agriculture accounted for about one-third of economic production in the 1920s, but by the 1950s this fraction dramatically reduced to one-tenth. This sudden increase of oil production restricted Venezuelas overall ability to create and maintain other industries. The government had ignored serious social problems, including education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, and domestic industries, causing Venezuela to fall well behind other industrialized countries.[citation needed]

Corrales, Javier; Penfold, Michael (2 April 2015).

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The silence and the scorpion: the coup against Chvez and the making of modern Venezuela

Nationalization become official when the presidency ofCarlos Andrs Prez, whose economic plan, La Gran Venezuela, called for the nationalization of the oil industry and diversification of the economy via import substitution. The country officially nationalized its oil industry on 1 January 1976 at the site of Zumaque oilwell 1 (Mene Grande), and along with it came the birth ofPetrleos de Venezuela S.A.(PDVSA) which is the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. All foreign oil companies that once did business in Venezuela were replaced by Venezuelan companies. Each of the former concessionaires was simply substituted by a new national oil company, which maintained the structures and functions of its multi-national corporation (MNC)-predecessor.[20]

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Vegard Bye,Nationalization of Oil in Venezuela: Re-defined Dependence and Legitimization of Imperialism,

Especial Bloomberg: Al igual que la industria, los hambrientos trabajadores petroleros tambin se derrumban.

There is no question that Venezuela under Chvez came to experience one of the worst cases ofDutch Diseasein the world.

Corrales, Javier; Romero, Carlos (2013).

In the early 1970s, oil producing countries of thePersian Gulfbegan negotiations with oil companies in attempt to increase their ownership participation. In 1972 they rapidly obtained a 25 percent participation, and less than a year later they revised those agreements to obtain up to 60 percent participation in the ownership of the companies.[8]By 1973, OPEC Persian Gulf states members decided to raise their prices by 70 percent and to place an embargo on countries friendly toIsrael(the United States and theNetherlands). This event became known as the 1973 oil crisis. Following a culmination of conflicts in the Middle East and the oil producing countries of thePersian Gulfno longer exporting to the United States and oil prices rising steeply, Venezuela experienced a significant increase in oil production profits. Between 1972 and 1974, the Venezuelan government revenues had quadrupled.[14]With a new sense of confidence, Venezuelan presidentCarlos Andrs Prezpledged that Venezuela would develop significantly within a few years.[14]By substituting imports, subsidies, and protective tariffs, he planned to use oil profits to increase employment, fight poverty, increase income, and diversify the economy. However, OPEC members had been violating production quotas, and oil prices fell drastically again in the 1980s, pushing Venezuela deeper into debt.

During the mid-1980s, Venezuelas oil production steadily began to rise.[23]By the 1990s, symptoms of theDutch Diseasewere once again becoming apparent. Between 1990-99, Venezuelas industrial production declined from 50 percent to 24 percent of the countrysgross domestic productcompared to a decrease of 36 percent to 29 percent for the rest ofLatin America,[24]but production levels continued to rise until 1998.[23]

In 2000, the pro-ChvezNational Assemblygranted Chvez the ability torule by decreedue to the poor economic conditions.[38]On 13 November 2001 while ruling by decree, Chvez enacted the newHydrocarbons Law, which came into effect in January 2002.[38]The laws marked a turning point in public sentiment toward the president with both chavistas and anti-chavistas outraged at the changes.[39]For the opposition to Chvez, such dramatic changes to the government proved to them that Chvez was a dictator-in-training.[38]

Into 2018 as a result ofshortages in Venezuela, malnourished oil workers were too weak to perform their daily tasks, with many beginning to collapse on the job.[62]

Lansberg-Rodrguez, Daniel (15 March 2015).Coup Fatigue in Caracas.

History of the Venezuelan oil industry

US Energy Information Administration, Country Energy Profiles: Venezuela, US Energy Information Administration,[1]).

Ghaddar, Ahmad; Lawler, Alex; Soldatkin, Vladimir (May 24, 2017).OPEC, non-OPEC set for new oil cut, eye longer duration. Reuters

By 2017, PDVSA could not even afford to export oil through international water, which requires safety inspections and cleaning under maritime law, with a fleet of tankers stranded in the Caribbean Sea due to the issue.[54]. In July 2017, this arrangement was extended from just the first half of 2017 to continue until March 2018[55][56]. This continued depression in income from oil has led Maduro to pressure the OPEC to raise the falling oil prices to help the Venezuelan economy.[57]In April 2017, a controversial Venezuelan Supreme Court ruling granted Maduro executive powers over PDVSA, which allow him act autonomously in selling shares or make international agreements of the oil company.[58]In October 2017, Venezuela had its lowest oil output in 28 years, with only 1.863 million bpd being pumped that month.[59]By late-2017, the PDVSA struggled to repay $725 million of debt, part of a total $5 billion owed, despite the fact Venezuelan citizens are experiencing ongoing famine.[60][61].

After the 1973 oil crisis, the period of economic prosperity for Venezuela was relatively short-lived. As Venezuelan oil minister and OPEC co-founderJuan Pablo Prez Alfonzohad presciently warned in 1976:Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin… It is the devils excrement.[22]This was the case during the1980s oil glut. OPEC member countries were not adhering strictly to their assigned quotas, and once again oil prices plummeted.[citation needed]

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Library of the Northwestern university

Cesar J. Alvarez,Venezuelas Oil-Based EconomyCouncil on Foreign Relations.

The Political Economy of Venezuelan Oil

According to Cannon, the state income from oil revenue grew from 51% of total income in 2000 to 56% 2006;[45]oil exports increased from 77% in 1997 […] to 89% in 2006;[45]and his administrations dependence on petroleum sales was one of the chief problems facing the Chvez government.[45]By 2008, exports of everything but oil collapsed[26]and in 2012, theWorld Bankexplained that Venezuelas economy is extremely vulnerable to changes in oil prices since in 2012 96% of the countrys exports and nearly half of its fiscal revenue relied on oil production.[46]

(1): 2439.doi10.1093/jahist/jas073.

Ulmer, Alexandra (April 2, 2017).Venezuelas Maduro wins power over oil despite court reversal. Reuters

According to Corrales and Penfold,Chvez was not the first president in Venezuelan history to be mesmerized by the promise of oil, but he was the one who allowed the sector to decline the most, with most statistics showing deterioration of the industry since the beginning of his presidency.[35] [Simon and Schuster, 1990], pp. 233236; 432

Gregory Wilpert, The Economy, Culture, and Politics of Oil in Venezuela, ,

Kevin Voigt (6 March 2013).Chavez leaves Venezuelan economy more equal, less stable. CNN

13 October 2006 at theWayback Machine.

With a large influx of foreign invaders, the effects of axenophobiathat had not been seen before became apparent. NovelistJose Rafael Pocaterradescribed the oilmen as the new Spaniards. He wrote in 1918:

(online ed.). New York: Nation Books. pp.18.ISBN1568584180.

Gillespie, Patrick (July 13, 2017).Venezuela oil production dives as big debt bills loom. CNN

Being an avid supplier of petroleum to theAllies of World War II, Venezuela had increased its production by 42 percent from 1943-44 alone.[18]Even after the war, oil demand continued to rise due to the fact that there was an increase from twenty-six million to forty million cars in service in the United States from 1945 to 1950.[19]

Upon arrival in the early 16th century, theSpanish conquerorslearned from the indigenous people to use the naturally occurringbitumenfor caulking their ships as well, and for treating their weapons. The first documented shipment of petroleum from Venezuela was in 1539 when a single barrel of oil was sent to Spain to alleviate the gout of EmperorCharles V.[7]

Chvezs successor,Nicols Maduro, continued much of the policies created by Chvez, with Venezuela further deteriorating as a result of continuing such policies.[26][30][31][36]

The Real and Nominal price of oil from 1861 to 2015.

The silence and the scorpion: the coup against Chvez and the making of modern Venezuela

The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

Popular resentment of the foreign oil companies was also evident and expressed in several ways.Rufino Blanco Fombona, a Venezuelan writer and politician, accounts for the conflict between Venezuelan workers and their foreign bosses in his 1927 novel,La Bella y la Fiera:

Wikipedia articles in need of updating from April 2016

AfterHugo Chvezofficially took office in February 1999, several policy changes involving the countrys oil industry were made to explicitly tie it to the state under hisBolivarian Revolution. Since then, PDVSA has not demonstrated any capability to bring new oil fields onstream since nationalizing heavy oil projects in theOrinoco Petroleum Beltformerly operated by international oil companiesExxonMobilConocoPhillipsChevronandTotal. Chvezs policies damaged Venezuelas oil industry due to lack of investment, corruption and cash shortages.[27][28]

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Health expenditure, total (% of GDP).

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The Chvez government used PDVSA resources to fund social programmes, treating it like a piggybank,[29]and PDVSA staff were required to support Chvez. His social policies resulted in overspending[26][30][31]that causedshortages in Venezuelaand allowed the inflation rate to grow to one of the highest rates in the world.[32][33][34]

Cunningham, Nick (July 20, 2017).Venezuela is desperate for higher oil prices. Business Insider

All the new companies are owned by a holding company-Petroven or PDV- and in its turned owned by the State.[21]Ultimately not much had changed in this regard, as all Venezuelans with leading positions in the MNCs took over the leading positions of the respective new companies,[21]and therefore still securing their interests in Venezuelas oil. PDVSA controls activity involving oil and natural gas in Venezuela. In 1980, in an aggressive internationalization plan, PDVSA bought refineries in USA and Europe as the AmericanCitgothat catapultated it to the third-largest oil company in the world.[14]

Painter, David S.(2012).Oil and the American Century

Bolivarian propagandasupporting Chvez on the PDVSA Towers in Maracaibo.

Wernau, Julie; Cui, Carolyn (August 2, 2017).Venezuelan Default Fears Rise With Billions in Debt Coming Due Soon — Update. Fox Business

Bye, Nationalization of Oil in Venezuela:Re-defined Dependence and Legitimization of Imperialism, p. 67.

In 1944, the Venezuelan government granted several new concessions encouraging the discovery of even more oil fields. This was mostly attributed to an increase in oil demand caused by an ongoingWorld War II, and by 1945, Venezuela was producing close to 1 million barrels per day (160,000m3/d).

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. 29 June 2004. Archived fromthe originalon 4 March 2016

League of Nations data for oil production in the world

In response to the chronically low oil prices of the mid and late 1950s, oil producing countries Venezuela,IranSaudi ArabiaIraq, andKuwaitmet inBaghdadin September 1960 to form theOrganization of the Petroleum Exporting CountriesOPEC). The main goal of the OPEC member countries was to work together in order to secure and stabilize international oil prices to ensure their interests as oil producing nations. This was managed largely via maintaining export quotas that helped prevent theoverproductionof oil on an international scale.

In 2008, crude oil production in Venezuela was the tenth-highest in the world at 2,394,020 barrels per day (380,619m3/d) and the country was also the eighth-largest net oil exporter in the world. Venezuela is a founding member of theOrganization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC).[6]

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Cabimas still plays an important role in production from the nations largest oil fields, which are located around and beneathLake Maracaibo. Other fields are increasing in importance, mainly in eastern Venezuela.[11]About twenty years after the installation of the first oil drill, Venezuela had become the largest oil exporter in the world and, after the United States, the second largest oil producer. Exports of oil boomed from 1.9% to 91.2% between 1920 and 1935.[12]By the end of the 1930s, Venezuela had become the third-leading oil producer in the world, behind the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as the leading exporter.[13]

, 16, no. 1 (1979): 67, accessed December 3, 2014.

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Since 2014, oil production in Venezuela has suffered from a poor oil market and Venezuelas insufficient funding of the industry. Venezuelas nationalistic oil policies have not succeeded in making them more independent from their oil customers. In 2016, the United States imported 291,461,000 barrels of oils from Venezuela, an amount consistent with imports in the five years prior.[49]To assuage the oil price decline which began back in June 2014 and continues through to today, President Maduro printed more currency, resulting in inflation as high as 700% of what the inflation rate was in 2014.[50]. TheEconomic policy of the Nicols Maduro administrationdid not revive the oil decline, and by 2016, the oil production reached the lowest it had been in 23 years.[51]According to analysts, the economicCrisis in Venezuela (2012-present)suffered under President Nicols Maduro would have still occurred with or without Chvez.[52]

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

. New York: Routledge. pp.7981.ISBN0415895243.

(United States: Duke University Press, 2009), 6.

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. U.S. Energy Information Administration

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

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