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"A dramatic escalation in tensions has raised fears that the US could impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil, threatening to complicate OPEC's job of balancing global oil supplies", Lawler said.

A year ago, the United States government saw American crude production averaging 11.95 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2042.

US imports of Canadian crude surged to a record 4.06 million barrels a day last week, according to the preliminary Energy Information Administration data.

The United States signalled on Thursday it may impose sanctions on Venezuelan exports after recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president this week, prompting President Nicholas Maduro to cut ties with Washington.

In total, the net imports of crude oil and products in the United States was 3.36 million barrels per day last week, up by about 1 million barrels per day from the previous week.

"Canadian producers should be able to capitalize on a crisis like this in terms of placing their barrels [in the USA market], but that's where the infrastructure constraints really come to bear", Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital markets in NY, said on Friday.

US refineries that depend on Venezuela's heavy crude would have even more trouble securing supplies as Canadian and Mexican crude are often not as discounted and are limited in availability.

After years of trouble, Venezuelan oil exports to the United States dropped. WCS prices jumped sharply after Alberta Premier Rachel Notley ordered a production cut of 325,000 b/d to drain the excess supply from the system in December.

Over the past four weeks, US total oil products imports averaged about 1.98 million barrels per day, up by 94,500 barrels per day from the same four-week period previous year.

A trade dispute between the U.S., China and tightening financial conditions around the world have hurt manufacturing activities in most economies and dragged China's growth in 2018 to the weakest in almost 30 years.

Those deliveries are being made largely through oil-for-debt repayment structures as output from Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., known as PDVSA, has slumped to near 70-year lows during a nationwide economic crisis. The price collapse in 2014 was a major hit to both PDVSA and the Venezuelan government, which relies on it for revenue.

“Venezuelan production will decline by an additional 300,000-500,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year but such punitive measures could expand that outage by several hundred thousand barrels.”.

Quoting the Annual Statistical Bulletin of the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), the "NDTV" had stated that Venezuela had 296.5 billion barrels of oil under its control.

However, the wealth and luck that should have been brought by Venezuela's huge oil reserves, has been affected by political unrest in recent years. That's because Venezuela's oil shipments to China and Russian Federation are usually taken as repayment for billions of dollars in debts.


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