National Security

U.S. Sanctions Force Venezuelan Oil Industry to New Low

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro / Getty Images

The once-massive Venezuelan oil industry has hit a new low due to expansive American sanctions, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

For the first time in a century, there are no oil rigs in the country actively searching for new oil. Instead, nearly all oil-based infrastructure has been directed toward already drilled resources.

"Venezuela’s days as a petrostate are gone," Risa Grais-Targow, an analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm, told the Times.

Numbers bear out the impact sanctions, economic mismanagement by the Maduro regime, and the coronavirus pandemic have had on Venezuelan oil. At its peak, Caracas was the largest oil exporter in Latin America, exporting $90 billion a year in petrol. The 2020 projection for Venezuela’s export regime is now $2.3 billion.

It is also unlikely that the country recovers its primary industry in the coming years. Given unstable political leadership, minimal global demand for oil, and a renewed environmental focus from many consumer countries, the requisite level of foreign investment in Venezuela’s oil infrastructure will likely not be met, experts say.

In large part, Venezuela’s economy is in shambles due to Washington’s robust sanctions. Even allies such as Iran have had attempts to engage in oil trade with Caracas blocked by American naval forces.

Furthermore, sanctions masterminded by Iran envoy Elliott Abrams have deterred any attempt from the socialist Maduro regime to fully seize power in the country.

Washington hopes for an end game of a new regime in Venezuela in the coming years."The Venezuelan people are suffering under an illegitimate and tyrannical regime intent on destroying democratic institutions, abusing human rights, engaging in rampant corruption, and exploiting the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in recent history," a July White House statement reads. "My Administration will always stand against socialism."