Venezuelans began stealing crude oil from unused fields owned by state-owned oil company Venezuela Oil after months of shortage.
In an act of desperation, Venezuelans flew to distill homemade gasoline, according to two workers from Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and half a dozen people familiar with the practice, reported Reuters Thursday.
PDVSA is going through a crisis and says it can no longer meet the country’s fuel needs following the collapse of its refining network.
Its oil and refining facilities have little security or maintenance, and the company is unable to retain skilled workers as wage values erode.
This is in addition to US sanctions in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s refusal to hold free and fair elections.
Venezuela’s crude production fell to just 397,000 b / d in September, from 1.2 million b / d before the sanctions were imposed in January 2019.
Maduro, who blames the sanctions for gasoline shortages, says Venezuela needs to boost fuel production.
Sanctions have targeted gasoline imports, forcing residents to wait in lines winding outside gas stations.
The field in which Venezuelans steal supplies has been inactive for two years due to PDVSA’s inability to maintain it.
A former company executive estimated that less than 1,000 barrels of crude a day, or less than 1% of total production, are stolen, Reuters said.