Will Venezuela Go To War Over Oil? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Will Venezuela Go To War Over Oil?

January 2021 is still far from over yet the pages of Oilprice already boast 6 articles about Guyana being the hottest drilling spot in the world. This is hardly surprising, considering the hot streak that ExxonMobil had over the past 5 years, with new companies coming in and stepping up the drilling game.

The interest globally attributed to Guyana has aggravated Venezuela’s long-standing grievances over the disputed Essequibo province – before 2015 the Venezuela vs Guyana oil standoff was akin to a David vs Goliath story but now, with Guyana building up its oil reserves tally and continuing to attract new investors, the balance has become a lot more nuanced. Amidst all of this, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has pledged to reconquer Essequibo. At first glance, the proposition that Venezuela should go to war over a disputed territory, let alone with Guyana, seems rather dubious. Venezuela boasts the world’s largest proven oil reserves, totalling roughly 304 Bbbls (see Graph 1), i.e. more than all of North America combined, more than Iraq and Iran combined. Guyana’s reserves are a fraction of that, barely reaching 3% with its 9-10 Bbbls. However, behind the dry facade of data and statistics, there lies an entire universe of human emotions, oftentimes led astray due to their subjective nature and in this particular realm, Caracas is the one frustrated and concerned. Guyana is adding one major discovery after another (the recent failure of Hassa-1 notwithstanding), whilst the Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA keeps on struggling to make ends meet.

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