Corruption in the Venezuelan state oil industry, denounced by the government itself, and with former ministers and senior managers behind bars, is the latest evidence that, in the country with the largest oil reserves on the planet, the industry on which the economy depends is falling apart. President Nicolás Maduro started a purge on Nov. 28, in the midst of the hail of corruption allegations and investigations, and asked the new management, to make an effort to raise production by one million barrels per day. Oil is virtually Venezuela’s only export product, the source of 95 percent of foreign exchange earnings. But there is bad news – Merely sustaining the current production of
1.85 million barrels per day – let alone increase it – US$4-5 billion would need to be injected into the industry, and the evidence is that this money is not there. With the economy in shambles, shortages of food, medicines and essential supplies, and a foreign debt of more than US$100 billion, Venezuela does not have the resources.