CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, said on Thursday the country’s oil output was up 250,000 barrels per day at the beginning of 2018.
The socialist leader, who is up for re-election in April, also said that a process of bond renegotiation and restructuring was “impeccable.”
Venezuela is undergoing an economic crisis, with quadruple-digit inflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine. Crude production is at its lowest levels in many years.
The OPEC nation is also behind on more than $1.6 billion in payments across sovereign debt and that of state oil company PDVSA, Japanese bank Nomura said in a recent note to investors.
“The negotiation and restructuring processes of our international debt is impeccable, going better than I could have hoped which demonstrates it was the correct decision,” Maduro told reporters.
Oil accounts for some 95 percent of Venezuela’s export revenue.
Venezuela said oil output rose in January to 1.8 million bpd, according to OPEC. However, the oil cartel’s secondary sources reported the true figure was just 1.6 million bpd, its lowest monthly figure in more than a decade and a half.
Crude production fell 13 percent in 2018 from the previous year, according to OPEC.
It was the biggest decline among OPEC members, who have pledged to restrain output through 2018.
But unlike voluntary cuts by other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries intended to stoke higher crude prices, Venezuela has been unable to stop a six-year-long production decline.
While the government has vowed to stay current on its debt, it has also deferred payments into grace periods and beyond. It blames U.S. sanctions for delays.
Critics blame the crisis on strict currency and price controls and deep corruption at high levels in government.
(This story corrects to 250,000 bpd from 200,000 bpd)