Exports fell from 3 million barrels per day in 2000 to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2011. Chavez relied heavily on the country’s oil income to fund social programmes, but reinvested relatively little of it to exploit new oil fields and replace depleted ones.
There has been no indication from the country’s national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA, or PDVSA, whether it will invite more foreign investment or increase its own investment in new production. But Chavez held such sway over the company’s direction that his death means the direction could change dramatically.
“Without his charisma and force of character, it is not at all clear how his successors will maintain the system he created,” said Daniel Yergin, author of a Pulitzer Prize winning book on global energy politics.
Markets respondThe world oil market’s response to Chavez’s death was muted.
Oil rose slightly in electronic trading in New York to $91.05 per barrel. That’s 8 times the price of a barrel when Chavez took office 14 years ago.
Analysts say Venezuelan production will likely fall further in the short term due to lack of clear directions for oil firms.