Analysts are noting that Venezuela’s oil exports fell by nearly one third, plummeting 32 per cent in 2019 to 1.001 million barrels per day.
Reuters news agency quoted Refinitiv Eikon data and state-run PDVSA’s reports, which indicate that a lack of staff and capital drove output to its lowest level in almost 75 years and US sanctions shrank exports markets.
Meanwhile, the news analysts said China has been growing in importance as a client as western buyers shying away from the Venezuelan company which has been affected by United States sanctions.
They say the impact would have been greater on exports, had some of the country’s biggest clients not chosen to buy oil through middle men or trans-shipped cargoes off several ports around the world so the country of origin was hidden.
A listing of clients by Reuters indicates that Russia’s Rosneft was the largest receiver and intermediary of Venezuelan oil with 33.5 per cent of total exports.
Next largest was state-run China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and its units with 11 per cent, and Cuba’s state-run Cubametales with seven per cent, the data showed.
China was number one client for Venezuelan oil in 2019 because sanctions blocked its primary market, the United States.
Reuters said that Venezuela sent an average of 319,507 barrels per day (bpd) to China in cargoes covering direct routes as well as in vessels chartered by intermediaries that ended up reaching Chinese refiners after trans-shipping the oil off countries like Malaysia, the Eikon vessel tracking data showed.
Meanwhile, the news analysts also note that US sanctions on Venezuelan and Iranian oil, have also been affecting global supply of heavy crude, and driving oil prices up more than 20 per cent in 2019.
The data shows that Venezuela produced 1.01 million bpd of crude from January through November, a low number issuing from a collapse of production under President Nicolas Maduro.
Analysts are also predicting a further decline in production for 2020 because of sanctions and lack of resources.
It is projected that Venezuela’s production will average 600,000 to 800,000 bpd in 2020.