Venezuela began producing oil in 1917, reaching a peak in
1970. All output is from onshore basins across the country, especially
around Lake Maracaibo.
Being a member of OPEC the country restricted output in the 1980s but
for some years has produced to its maximum potential with production
data of uncertain accuracy. It may have restricted output in 2008 but
the decline could have been caused by lack of investment. Although some
new output will be achieved in its old producing areas the biggest
growth opportunity lies in production of bitumen deposits (converted to
synthetic oil) from the huge Orinoco Belt.
Oil associated with gas will also be produced as new oil and gas fields
come onstream offshore near Trinidad. Gas production is forecast to
increase, some destined for export as LNG over the long term.
consumption is increasing after a brief decline in 2003 due to internal
Gas consumption is also increasing, picking up over the next few years
as the country looks to gas as a fuel substitute and tries to increase
its foreign oil earnings.
Exports of oil will remain flat after a low in 2003 and another in 2009,
whilst net gas exports are projected to begin in 2013 and increase when
the country’s first LNG plant comes onstream at Guajira on the Paria
peninsula although this may not happen for a decade.