Mau 30, 2008
CARACAS -- Venezuela's state petroleum company, PDVSA, increased petroleum imports by nearly 150 percent between the first quarter of 2007 and the same period this year, bank statistics show.
A report by the Venezuelan Central Bank this week demonstrated that petroleum imports reached $1.5 billion during the first quarter of 2008. The imports -- which include diesel oil, gasoline and chemical additives for gasoline products -- are the country's highest in more than a decade.
A spokesperson for PDVSA said the company had no immediate comment on the issue.
Economist Gustavo García, a professor at a Caracas business school, called the increase ''one more factor that shows how production has fallen,'' forcing the company to purchase petroleum products outside of the country.
Venezuela's state oil company said it produced 3.15 million barrels per day last year. Analysts, including the Paris-based International Energy Administration, put Venezuela's production at around 2.4 million.
García said that while the petroleum sector reported growth of 3.3 percent in the first quarter, this figure is ''not consistent with the number of active rigs.'' PDVSA declared an emergency shortage of oil rigs last July, and the company's year-end report showed they had just 111.
Venezuela's total petroleum-related imports reached $4.03 billion last year. The country is one of the world's largest oil exporters and the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States.