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Venezuelan President Finally Admits Oil 'Emergency.' It May Be Too Late

Fernando Llano
An oil well near El Tigre, Venezuela.

It’s no secret Venezuela’s once robust oil industry is wrecked, which is why its economy is wrecked too. Even Venezuela’s authoritarian socialist president is now admitting it.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has finally conceded the country faces an “energy emergency.” Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Its state-run monopoly PDVSA once produced three million barrels of crude a day. Last month output was just 730,000 barrels — a level not seen since the 1940s.

That’s a result of two decades of mismanagement and lack of investment by Venezuela’s socialist regime — which is widely blamed for the worst economic collapse in the world today. Venezuela’s foreign reserves are running out — so Maduro on Thursday announced a commission to revive PDVSA, to be headed by his economic vice president, Tareck El Aissami.

Without a major infusion of private foreign investment, though, it’s unlikely Maduro’s commission will have much success. And that investment itself is questionable since U.S. economic sanctions against Maduro’s regime and PDVSA may scare it away.

This week, for example, the Trump Administration levied sanctions against the Russian oil firm Rosneft, which it accuses of aiding PDVSA exports.