US sanctions against foreign tankers signal more direct targeting of Venezuela’s oil sector

The first oil platform built in Venezuela by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA, in Orinoco, Venezuela in 2011

As if the crippling sanctions on its oil industry by a United States administration that now has its sights set firmly on bringing down the administration of President Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela were not enough, the recent widespread power shutdowns across large parts of the country have had a crippling effect on many of the country’s oil wells and rigs, slashing its oil output and in effect further compromising the lifeline which its oil earnings represent against the backdrop of the already debilitating oil sanctions imposed on the Maduro administration by the United States. While more recent reports point to the restoration of some semblance of operational normalcy with the country’s oil wells and rigs, oil output reportedly averaged less than 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) during the period of the blackouts.

Last week the oil and gas news site World Oil reported that the power-related slide in oil production dealt a further damaging blow to what it says is “Venezuela’s already-crippled oil industry,” causing it to lose its biggest customer, the United States…..

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