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Venezuela Oil Breaks $100 -- Averages $101.26
According to figures released by the Venezuela Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending March 11 flew to $101.26 from the previous week's $97.51 , bringing the average for the year to $88.64, surpassing the previous high set by 2008's $86.49 average.
CARACAS -- Venezuela's weekly oil basket soared this week, with the price of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange rising above $104 on fears of continued strife in Libya and the Middle East.
According to figures released by the Venezuela Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending March 11 flew to $101.26 from the previous week's $97.51 .
According to the Ministry, the average price so far in 2011 for Venezuela's mix of heavy and medium crude is now $88.64, higher than 2010's $72.43, and much higher than 2009’s average price of $57.01, and now above the high set by 2008's average of $86.49.
The United States is the largest importer of Venezuela’s oil exports.
In 2008, the United States imported 1.19 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and petroleum products from Venezuela, down from 1.36 million bpd in 2007.
Historically, Venezuela has been one of the most important suppliers of foreign oil to the United States, but that importance has been diminishing, especially under Venezuela President Hugo Chavez. In 1960, Venezuela’s share of U.S. oil imports stood at 50%, but Venezuela now bounces between being the fourth and fifth largest supplier to the US, supplying only 9% of total US oil imports in 2008.
Venezuelan exports to the U.S. have fluctuated from month to month recently, reaching 1.38 million barrels a day in the last week of January, according to the latest U.S. figures. During the second half of 2010, exports hovered between 800,000 and 1 million barrels a day.
Despite the cumulative decline, Venezuela was the fifth crude oil and byproducts supplier to the United States in September.
The list was led by Canada, which exported 2,475,000 bpd, followed by Mexico (1,256,000 bpd); Nigeria (1,174,000 bpd); Saudi Arabia (1,093,000 bpd) and Venezuela, which exported 1,008,000 bpd.
Oil accounts for more than one-third of Venezuela's gross domestic product, more than half of government revenue and about nine-tenths of the country's exports.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez and Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez have been arguing for a $100 per barrel, saying it is a “fair price” for crude in today’s world.
“It’s a fair price because it would allow us to recover the value of our natural resource and sustain the important investments that all oil-producing countries must make to maintain production capacities,” said Ramirez, who is also president of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A (PDVSA).
“We know the price of oil is being affected by factors apart from so-called oil-market fundamentals; in other words, financial speculation, the weakness of the dollar, all those elements that are closely tied to a perception of economic problems,” Ramirez said.
Despite the drastic fall in price between 2008-2009, from $140 to $35 per barrel, the minister hailed the “significant recovery” since then.
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez claimed last year that oil should be above $100 a barrel because the US dollar "is increasingly worthless."
Venezuela, a founding member of OPEC and one of the globe’s top oil exporters, says it produces 2.9 million barrels per day, though OPEC and the IEA put that figure closer to 2.3 million barrels a day.
The country says it plans to increase output to 4.15 million bpd in 2015 and to 6.85 million bpd starting in 2021 thanks to several promising projects in the massive, heavy-oil Orinoco Belt in eastern Venezuela, according to Ramirez.