The Impact of Oil Prices on Venezuela's Economy

The Impact of Oil Prices on Venezuela's Economy

4 Min.

The price of oil significantly impacts Venezuela's economy. When oil prices are high, Venezuela's economy thrives as oil comprises 95% of its exports and 25% of its GDP. However, when oil prices drop, the country faces economic challenges, leading to an economic crisis, mass migration, and reduced oil production.


The global price of oil is a crucial indicator in the world of economics, with far-reaching consequences for every nation's economic well-being. Venezuela, in particular, is profoundly influenced by the fluctuations in oil prices due to its heavy dependence on oil exports. This article explores the intricate relationship between oil prices and Venezuela's economy.

Oil Prices and the United States

While the United States, one of the world's largest consumers of oil, thrives economically when oil prices are low, Venezuela's economic health is profoundly impacted by these price fluctuations. The United States imports more oil than it exports, making it reliant on international oil prices. Low oil prices benefit the U.S. as they reduce the financial burden on its citizens, who consume oil and gas at a high rate.

Venezuela's Economy

Venezuela's economic situation exhibits a stark contrast to that of the United States. The price of oil and Venezuela's economic prospects are tightly interconnected, often moving in harmony. When oil prices are high, Venezuela enjoys economic prosperity, but when oil prices drop, it faces severe economic challenges.

Oil Dominates the Economy

Oil plays an indispensable role in Venezuela's economic landscape, constituting a staggering 95% of the country's exports and contributing 25% to its gross domestic product (GDP). The period between 2006 and the first half of 2014 was particularly favorable for Venezuela, as oil prices hovered primarily between $100 and $125 per barrel. During this time, Venezuela harnessed the revenues from high oil prices to fund its national budget and exert political influence.

Venezuela implemented a robust oil giveaway program, supplying subsidized oil to up to 13 neighboring Latin American countries, notably Cuba. In doing so, Venezuela aimed to secure political favors and build a coalition against rival nations, including the United States.

A Burden Amidst Falling Prices

However, this oil giveaway program became a liability when oil prices collapsed towards the end of 2014. As oil prices plummeted, Venezuela continued to provide over 200,000 barrels of oil per day to other nations, with Cuba receiving half of this allocation. This act significantly reduced the volume of oil available for profitable export. When oil prices remained above $100, Venezuela could maintain its economic stability. But as prices dipped well below this threshold, the nation's financial margins were squeezed, leading to budget shortfalls and burgeoning debt.

Desperate Measures

In early 2015, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, grappling with record-low approval ratings due to the country's deteriorating economy, embarked on a global tour. His mission was to implore influential nations in the oil market to take measures that would push oil prices back to $100 or more. This desperate move underscored the undeniable grip of oil on the Venezuelan economy.

Impact on Venezuela's Oil Production and Economy

The economic crisis in Venezuela, coupled with severe shortages of food, medication, and necessities, triggered a massive exodus of over 2 million people from the country in 2014. This mass migration had dire consequences for the nation's workforce, including the labor force in the oil industry. As a result of the labor shortage and a myriad of other issues, Venezuela's oil production plummeted to its lowest point in over seven decades.

In June 2018, the country's oil production slumped to 1.34 million barrels per day, representing an 800,000-barrel decrease from the previous year. Given the profound interdependence between oil production and the Venezuelan economy, this significant reduction was a severe blow, likely worsening the nation's already precarious economic situation.


The price of oil is an economic linchpin in Venezuela, where it has far-reaching consequences. With oil accounting for 95% of the country's exports and a significant portion of its GDP, high oil prices translate to economic prosperity. However, when oil prices plummet, Venezuela's economy faces tremendous challenges, resulting in economic crises, mass emigration, and reduced oil production. This intricate relationship underscores the nation's vulnerability to the vagaries of the global oil market.

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