Energy profile: Venezuela
Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)
Venezuela relies heavily on domestic production of fossil fuels, with oil and natural gas comprising approximately 90% of the country's total energy supply. Hydro power also plays a key role in electricity generation, accounting for roughly half of installed capacity. Venezuela's national electricity plan, PDSEN (Plan de Desarrollo del Sistema Eléctrico Nacional) calls for other renewable energy sources (wind and solar) to be incorporated in the country's long term strategies, particularly for rural communities.
Greenhouse gas emissions targets
The Venezuelan government's Nationally Determined Contribution calls for a 20% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. While Venezuela is a signatory of the Paris Climate Accord, the government contends that Venezuela is not truly the problem, noting that the country only produced 0.48% of global emissions as of 2018.
Government energy agencies & other key players
National energy ministry
MinPet (Ministerio del Poder Popular de Petróleo) oversees all activities involving hydrocarbon and non-renewable energy resources.
The Ministry of Oil, PDVSA, National Executive, National Assembly, and other State agencies are responsible for permitting, licensing, and joint-venture agreements.
Regulation of the oil industry is handled by the Hydrocarbons Act, while the gas industry is regulated by the Gas Act.
Corpoelec (Corporación Eléctrica Nacional) is the state power company in Venezuela, under the Ministry of Electric Power formed in 2007 following the merger of ten state-owned and six privately-owned electrical companies.
National oil company
PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.) is the state company which explores, produces, refines, transports, stores, manufactures, and commercializes petroleum products within and outside of Venezuela. The company was put under military control in 2018.
Energy sector employment data
Due to layoffs, reduced hours, and outward migration, employment data for Venezuela's energy sector is unclear.
Venezuela's national electricity plan for 2013-2019 showed a total installed electrical capacity of roughly 30,000 MW. The country's largest single power generator is the Guri hydroelectric project (also known as the Simon Bolivar hydroelectric project), with an installed capacity of 10,235 MW, capable of generating approximately 45,000 gigawatts of electricity annually. However, Venezuela's power plants and electrical grid are plagued by maintenance issues that severely reduce available capacity, and the country is prone to regular blackouts, including the notorious March 2019 blackout that impacted the entire nation.
According to 2018 Venezuelan government figures, 62% of electricity was generated from hydropower, with the remaining 38% generated by hydrocarbon power plants.
The majority of Venezuela's electrical demand is met by the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant. However, a fall in production in recent years means that Venezuela is not meeting the demand of its population.
Electricity consumption in Venezuela has dropped steadily since 2013 due to economic and political turmoil, population exodus, and crumbling infrastructure.
Coal in Venezuela
Venezuela has an abundance of coal - with the third largest reserves in Latin America- on which it has begun to rely more heavily due to US oil sanctions. Increasing coal production is the State strategy to mitigate the economic damaged caused by lost oil revenues.
As of 2016, Venezuela had proven coal reserves equivalent to 4,460 times the annual consumption. The country consumes approximately 180,696 short tons annually.
Imports & source countries
Venezuela does not import notable amounts of coal, particularly since the economic crisis began.
Venezuela exports coal primarily to European nations for a total of 310,000 tons during 2019. Britain was one of the destinations for Venezuelan coal in 2019 and 2020 after receiving no Venezuelan coal during 2018.
Oil & Natural Gas in Venezuela
As of 2019, despite having the largest oil reserves of any country in Latin America and the Caribbean, Venezuela slipped from third to fourth place among the region's oil producers (after Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia). Declining oil and gas production in Venezuela has corresponded with political turmoil in the country and worsened during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Venezuela was a founding member of OPEC and has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, but mismanagement, lack of investment, obsolescent machinery, and lack of qualified personnel has greatly diminished the country's power in the marketplace.
Domestic consumption of oil and gas in Venezuela is hindered by poor distribution, lack of product, and inflation. In 2020, the deficit for domestic gas in Venezuela was estimated at 75%.
Imports & source countries
Imports of oil have significantly declined since US sanctions began, as Venezuela has limited potential producers, such as Iran. In 2019, Venezuela imported 167,100 barrels of petroleum products daily.
Venezuela's oil reserves, estimated at 302.3 billion barrels in 2019, are by far the largest of any country in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Proposed new sources & projects
New gas projects in Venezuela have been slowed by the economic and political crisis within the country, a situation that has been further exacerbated by US sanctions. During 2021, the Maduro government hopes the new Anti-Blockade Law will attract foreign capital so that 70 oil fields can be developed that would otherwise remain inactive. Chinese investment is the Venezuelan oil sector is likely. As of 2021, the Hydrocarbons Act of 2006 is still in place, which requires that primary oil exploration and production be carried out by the State or entities more than 50% owned by the State, thus greatly limiting new contracts and explorations.
Prior to US sanctions, Venezuela exported most of its crude oil. While plans have been in the works for years for Venezuela to export natural gas, nothing has come to fruition. As of 2021 Venezuela neither imports nor exports natural gas.
Renewable Energy in Venezuela
The decrease in the cost of renewable installation, particularly solar, makes renewables a more viable option for Venezuela. In 2019, Venezuela had installed 5.32 MW of solar power generation capacity and 71.28 MW of wind capacity. Venezuela plans to incorporate an additional 10,000 MW of wind energy by 2035. The use of renewable energy in remote areas would alleviate the risk of blackouts common to much of the country.
Iron & Steel in Venezuela
Venezuela's large state-run steelmaker Sidor, in decline since its nationalization in 2008 and long unable to produce anywhere near total capacity due to dilapidated machinery, ceased operations permanently after the Venezuelan blackout of March 2019. The plant produced less than 1% of its total capacity in 2020. Oxygen from Sidor facilities - previously used as an input during the steel production process - was repurposed during 2020 and 2021 to treat COVID-19 patients. Venezuela's iron ore deposits are of high quality, but a 2009 deal to develop them with Chinese investment created massive debt for the Venezuelan government due to extremely low prices and Venezuela's inability to meet its contractual obligations. Iron ore production by state-run mining company CVG Ferrominera Orinoco has fallen precipitously over the past decade.
The Venezuelan government frequently covers up the true social and environmental impacts of energy and mining projects, but despite these attempts reports are still able to ascertain corruption, human rights violations, environmental contamination, release of greenhouse gases, deforestation, pollution of potable water reservoirs, and more. As Venezuela's environmental institutions have collapsed due to government corruption there has been a chain reaction of unsustainable natural resource extraction. Mining projects are able to operate without environmental impact assessments or public consultations. Oil spills are frequent occurrences and are likely to continue without adequate funding to update and maintain pipelines, wells, floating terminals, and other necessary infrastructure. A 2020 study found Venezuela experienced more than 4,000 oil spills during 2017 alone. The risk of environmental disaster has intensified with the decline of the Venezuelan economy, as evidenced by continued reports of abandoned oil wells, ruptured pipelines, spills and gas leaks, and the stranding of a rusty tanker loaded with more than a million barrels of crude oil off Venezuela's coast in 2020.
- "Panorama Energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2020". OLADE. November 27, 2020.
- "IEA Policies and Measures Database © OECD/IEA". IEA. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
- "Venezuela Development Plan for the National Electric System 2013-2019 (Plan de Desarrollo del Sistema Electrico Nacional (PDSEN))". IEA. February 17, 2017.
- "Primera Contribución Nacionalmente Determinada para la lucha contra el Cambio Climático y sus efectos" (PDF). República Bolivariana de Venezuela. July 2017.
- Garcia, Simon (December 13, 2018). "Venezuela promotes adoption of the Paris Agreement in COP24". Ministerio del Poder Popular para Relaciones Exteriores.
- "Oil & Gas Regulation 2021 - Venezuela". ICLG - Global Legal Group. May 2, 2021.
- "Venezuela plans its first utility scale PV projects". pv magazine International. April 11, 2019.
- Deisy Buitrago, Alexandra Ulmer (April 17, 2018). "Under military rule, Venezuela oil workers quit in a stampede". Reuters.
- Luc Cohen. "Venezuelan coal exports rise as U.S. escalates oil sanctions". U.S. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "Venezuela Solar Energy Market | Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)". www.mordorintelligence.com. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
- "Panorama Energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2020". OLADE. November 27, 2020.
- Gutiérrez, Jeanfreddy (January 15, 2020). "Venezuela's electricity emergency swallows up tens of millions of dollars". Dialogo Chino.
- "Jorge Roig: El apagón es una tragedia peor que el terremoto de Caracas". El Nacional. March 14, 2019.
- "Las termoeléctricas y la ruina del sector energético nacional". Observatorio de Ecología Política de Venezuela. September 9, 2019.
- "Informe Final: Comisión Mixta para el Estudio de la Crisis Eléctrica en el País" (PDF). Asamblea Nacional - República Bolivariana de Venezuela. January 15, 2017.
- "Capacidad de generación de plantas termoeléctricas administradas por PDVSA es de 2.871 MW pero sólo se generan 775 MW". Venezuela Política. October 9, 2018.
- "Conoce cómo se encuentra el Sistema Eléctrico Nacional venezolano". Venezuela Política. October 26, 2018.
- "Venezuela Energy Information | Enerdata". www.enerdata.net. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "Venezuela Coal Reserves and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". www.worldometers.info. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "Venezuela falls to fourth-largest oil producer in Latin America". World Oil. May 20, 2019.
- "Commodities 2021: Venezuela's oil industry expected to deteriorate further | S&P Global Platts". www.spglobal.com. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "China stays Venezuela course, despite oil import lull". 2019-08-20. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "Venezuela fails to harness abundant wind and sunshine". Dialogo Chino. 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
- María Ramírez (March 6, 2017). "Struggling to smelt, Venezuela state-run steelmaker grows sunflowers, crops". Reuters.
- "El derrumbe de Sidor, la siderúrgica de Techint estatizada en Venezuela: pasó de 4,3 millones de toneladas de acero por año a producir nada". infobae. January 27, 2020.
- "Crisis-wracked Venezuela turns for hope to broken factories". AP NEWS. January 3, 2018.
- "Venezuelan steelmaker Sidor shuts all operations after energy blackout". S&P Global Platts. March 19, 2019.
- "Señalan que con el apagón se cierran las puertas de Sidor". El Universal. March 17, 2019.
- Maria Ramirez (February 10, 2021). "How a Venezuelan steel plant's decline is helping Brazil treat COVID-19 patients". Reuters.
- Segovia, María Antonieta (February 14, 2021). "A dream deal with China that ended in nightmarish debt for Venezuela". Dialogo Chino.
- "Orinoco's Mining Arc: An environmental crime with global effects - Luis Palacios". www.lclark.edu. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "Opinion | The world must act to stop Venezuela's environmental destruction". Washington Post. 2021-02-22. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
- "Why Are More and More Oil Spills Happening in Venezuela?". Venezuelanalysis.com. September 1, 2020.
- "Venezuela's broken oil industry is spewing crude into the Caribbean Sea". Washington Post. September 24, 2020.
- Gibbens, Sarah (October 28, 2020). "FSO Nabarima—what we know about a million barrels of oil stranded at sea". National Geographic.
- Nishan Degnarain (August 28, 2020). "Oil Spill August: What Two Major Oil Spills In Venezuela And Mauritius Now Mean For The World". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-06-10.
- "Toxic Spills in Venezuela Offer a Bleak Vision of the End of Oil". Bloomberg.com. December 15, 2020.