Venezuela Producing 850,000 bpd of Oil, Hopes to Recover Market Share in U.S.

(Reuters) — Venezuela is currently producing some 850,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and hopes to soon reach 1 million bpd, the country's deputy oil minister, Erick Perez, said on Wednesday, following the temporary lifting of U.S. sanctions on the nation.

Washington in October issued a license allowing Venezuela to export oil, gas and fuel to its chosen markets through mid-April as a way to encourage negotiations for a fair presidential election next year. The measures could be reverted.

"We have set a plan with several phases: recovery, stabilization and growth. Of course, six months in the oil industry is a short time, (but) will allow us to progress. In the medium term, we will see the results," he said on the sidelines of an energy conference in Caracas.

The nation has about 5,000 active wells for crude and gas output and its natural gas production currently averages some 4 billion cubic feet per day, according to official data.

Venezuela's oil output in October was 786,000 bpd. It will continue growing if diluents to produce exportable heavy crude grades are imported, Perez said.

The country is hopeful it will be able to progressively recover market share in what it was the main destination of its oil, the U.S., while pushing deals for starting exports of natural gas, including to Trinidad and Tobago, Perez said.

"The recovery of our markets, the recovery of those customers will improve over the time," he added.

Perez also said Venezuela is progressing in talks with Trinidad's government for the Dragon field, a U.S.-authorized offshore project in negotiation with Trinidad's National Gas Company (NGC) and Shell that would provide Venezuelan gas for producing liquefied natural gas and petrochemicals.

Trinidad's Energy Minister Stuart Young traveled to Caracas this week to negotiate the terms of Dragon's exploration and production license, the Caribbean country's government said on Monday.

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