Oil Cartel decision does not phase Venezuela’s Maduro

The reign of OPEC may be coming to an end. Oil prices have taken their sharpest plunge in three years according to Bloomberg. Latin America, the region that accounts for the largest crude oil reserves outside of the Middle East, has begun to feel the shock waves of the recent petro crisis.

OPEC, the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries, was founded in 1960 with the first five member countries being: Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Today, Ecuador has been another country from Latin America that has become an OPEC member.

Since September, prices have dropped significantly while alternate energy sources have been explored, for example the increased interest in natural gas and pipeline systems. The petroleum cartel, OPEC, an organization of countries with some of the largest oil reserves in the world, is facing off against a new era of alternate energy. The petro dollar has become depreciated.

“In just a matter of months, the price of a barrel of oil has dropped from more than $100 to about $70, and gas is now cheaper than it has been in years,” according to Fox News.

OPEC and the petro industry marked an increase in supply in the face of a falling global demand for oil; this combination creating the devaluation of the petro dollar, says Telegraph.

WTI Crude Oil Spot Price Chart
Photo: The Street

OPEC met this past week, and besides the fall of the crude oil prices, OPEC members have decided to not minimize current production quotas. The cartel of oil-producing nations, in the past has been able to fix prices based on their ability to increase or decrease their supply of crude oil. OPEC’s decision will inevitably lead the prices to continue to fall as there becomes a surplus of crude oil in the market.

The decision to maintain production, at about 30 million barrels a day, is seen by many as OPEC’s confidence in the resurgence of demand for oil despite the United States great success with increased fracking and shale gas extraction. The decision made by OPEC is seen as a response to hype about new energy take overs.

Although the organization decided to face off against the increasing value of shale gas and other competing energy sources, sticking out the economic downturn at the moment, some OPEC nations may not be able to handle the short-term sacrifice. Countries like Venezuela and Nigeria who have economies almost completely dependent on the production and exportation of crude oil will be much more greatly affected with falling oil revenue prices below $100.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, after the OPEC meeting, announced the country will cut public spending, due to the fall of petroleum demand. Surprisingly, the first thing to be reviewed and cut will be the wages and salaries of leadership officials, “starting with the president of the republic.”

Cuts will be made to all the ministries and state owned enterprises. Maduro doesn’t see the fall in gas prices and its effect on the country’s economy as an “evil.” In his opinion, according to El Comercio, he sees it as an opportunity to cut unnecessary spending and reorient the country.

Despite recent problems of questionable dictatorship type actions from the Venezuelan government, Maduro assured that even though there will be cuts,

“’ni un bolívar se va a tocar de las misiones’ o programas sociales y señaló que, por el contrario, se ampliarán las inversiones en materia social.”

In this address to the country saying that social programs will not be touched or cut, but on the contrary, will receive increased investments and attention.

Venezuela: Maduro recorta gasto público por caída del petróleo
Maduro assures the public, that government sectors and officials will take the price cuts, but not social and public programs. Photo: Reuters.
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