Venezuela ‘ready’ to supply global oil market: Maduro

CARACAS (AFP): Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday his country is “ready” to supply the global oil and gas market, which has been crippled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Venezuela is ready and willing to fulfill its role and supply, in a stable and secure manner, the oil and gas market that the world economy needs,” Maduro said at an event held during the OPEC secretary-general’s visit to Caracas.

Maduro insisted his country’s oil industry had “recovered,” despite production levels falling to historic lows after years of lacking investment and maintenance.

Venezuela’s current output is about 700,000 barrels per day, compared to 3.2 million barrels per day in 2002.

The United States has imposed a battery of sanctions on Caracas in a bid to force Maduro from power, with one 2019 measure preventing Venezuela from trading its crude oil — which accounted for 96 percent of the country’s revenues — on the US market.

But US President Joe Biden’s administration announced in May it would ease some of those sanctions, as energy prices surged due to the war in Ukraine.

Maduro condemned the energy “crisis” caused by what he called “unjustified” sanctions on Russia. He has been among the few international figures to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin of his “strong support” in the wake of the invasion.

Russia, Europe’s main natural gas supplier, has sharply reduced deliveries, raising fears of shortages and even higher prices as winter approaches.

During his visit to Caracas, OPEC Secretary-General Haitham al-Ghais warned the organization is facing a challenge that was “more serious, more critical” than any it has faced since it was founded 62 years ago.