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Venezuela nears oil production of 1m barrels per day, first time in 5 years

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Caracas, Venezuela—Venezuela, which sits on the world’s largest proven reserves of oil, is approaching daily production of a million barrels for the first time in over five years, its petroleum minister said Thursday.

The country produced 3.5 million barrels per day at its peak in 2008, but this plummeted following years of mismanagement and crushing US sanctions.

Last month, Washington slapped sanctions back on Caracas six months after lifting them, as punishment for the government’s continuing repression of opponents ahead of July elections.

Spanish energy giant Repsol nevertheless received a license from the United States to keep operating in Venezuela without running afoul of sanctions.

Other companies are also seeking such licenses.

Oil Minister Pedro Tellechea said last month he was optimistic that Venezuelan oil production would reach a million barrels per day soon, partly due to the deal with Repsol.

“We can say officially that we have surpassed 950,000 barrels [per day]… this month,” Tellechea announced Friday at an official event in the capital, adding: “we are very close to a million barrels.

Tellechea is also the head of state oil company PDVSA.

According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuelan production reached 910,000 barrels per day by the end of May.

The country’s production fell under a million barrels per day in 2019 as the United States imposed sanctions following President Nicolas Maduro’s disputed re-election the year before.

By 2020, the figure was under 400,000 barrels.

Maduro will be seeking a third presidential term in July 28 elections from which his strongest challengers have been ruled out by courts loyal to the regime.

This was despite an agreement reached between the government and opposition last year to hold a free and fair vote with international observers present. AFP

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