September 23, 2019

Sanctions imposed at the end of January 2019, with executive orders following the Trump administration’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as “interim president” of Venezuela, continue to hit Venezuela’s oil production, according to OPEC data.

US recognition of this parallel government meant imposition of an effective oil embargo. As Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs wrote in April, these January sanctions “include not only the sanctions that were explicitly mandated by these executive orders but also the sanctions that were implied, and activated, by the recognition of a parallel government; and additional sanctions resulting from further statements, threats, or actions from the executive branch of the United States.” These sanctions drastically reduced the ability of Venezuela to produce and sell oil, as it was cut off from its largest market for oil exports, the US. Venezuela’s oil production declined by 130,000 barrels per day from January to February, whereas in the six months prior it was declining by an average of 20,500 barrels per day. Oil production fell another 276,000 barrels per day in March. While production ticked up slightly in April and June, it was down in May (14,000 barrels per day), July (30,000 barrels per day), and August (43,000 barrels per day), with overall production still far below levels prior to the imposition of the new sanctions at the end of January.