The slow-moving train wreck of one of the world’s largest oil producers has made Venezuela into a household name — and an ignominious one to boot. A mismanaged oil sector, combined with slumping crude prices, has unleashed a disastrous humanitarian crisis, as well as widespread political and economic instability.
Russ Dallen, a veteran Venezuela watcher and managing partner of Caracas Capital Markets, put it bluntly to CNBC: “Venezuela is in trouble.” Dallen, who’s also a strategic advisor to the exchange-listed Venezuela Opportunity Fund, cited rapidly deteriorating oil production and evaporating reserves as a force multiplier behind the country’s mounting woes.
“Their oil basket sells for $7-$10 a barrel below Brent and WTI, and is currently averaging just over $45 for the year,” Dallen said. He added that “$45 million a day for a country of 31 million is less than $1.50 per person — not enough for lunch, much less to feed the population every day” and was creating a “vicious circle” of lower oil production and refining.