Venezuela’s oil industry took a major hit after the U.S. slapped energy sanctions on the country’s exports last month, causing them to plummet 40 percent.
Exports are down to 920,000 barrels per day of crude and fuel, a significant drop from between 1.47 million and 1.66 million barrels per day Venezuela exported in the three months before the Trump administration’s January 28 sanctions, according to a Reuters analysis and data from the country’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.
About 70 percent of the country’s oil shipments during the past month went to Asia, with the largest amount going to India, then Singapore and China. U.S. deliveries and payments related to oil from Venezuela will be allowed to be completed through April.
“PDVSA [and] the whole nation has been under a brutal attack by the U.S. government to impact the company’s finances and operations,” Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said Thursday in Saudi Arabia.
The State Department initiated the sanctions as part of the U.S. effort to topple the government of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
“Maduro and his cronies have used state-owned PDVSA to control, manipulate, and steal from the Venezuelan people for too long, destroying it in the process,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement when the sanctions were announced. “Today’s action will prevent Maduro and other corrupt actors from further enriching themselves at the expense of the long-suffering Venezuelan people.”
Earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence called on world leaders to help put pressure on Maduro to give up control of the government.
“To leaders around the world: It’s time. There can be no bystanders in Venezuela’s struggle for freedom,” Pence said Monday in Bogota, Colombia. “The day is coming soon when Venezuela’s long nightmare will end and Venezuela will once more be free.”