Venezuela's oil output running 1.5 million bpd short: Ecuador minister

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Venezuela’s oil production is running 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) short of its historic output but it is something that the country must address itself, Ecuador oil minister Carlos Perez said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Ecuador's Minister of Hydrocarbons Carlos Perez talks to the media during a visit to Ecuador's state-run Esmeraldas refinery complex in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, August 15, 2017, REUTERS/Daniel Tapia

The South American country should address the shortfall on its own, he said on the sidelines of the CERAWeek energy conference, adding: “It is up to (Venezuela) to decide what to do.”

The United Arab Emirates oil minister said on Sunday that OPEC last year discussed member Venezuela’s falling production and offered technical aid to help restore the South American country’s output.

Venezuela’s oil production fell 13 percent in 2017 to a 28-year low of about 2.072 million bpd.

OPEC believes Venezuela will be able to rebuild its production, UAE oil minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei said.

Ecuador’s Perez also downplayed the impact of U.S. shale production on global crude markets, noting that shale fields tend to have lower total oil recovery than conventional fields.

“It has an impact but not the impact we expected. Recovery factors are still low, so right now (there is) no additional impact,” Perez said.

Ecuador’s 110,000-barrel-per-day Esmeraldas oil refinery is operating at top capacity, he said, and will undergo maintenance shutdowns this month for 15 days and again in May for 54 days. He did not specify the shutdown dates.

Perez also said the country’s coming auction of oil and gas blocks will be launched on March 13, and about 40 companies have signed up to bid on minor fields recently included in the offer.

“Expectations are high,” he said.

Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Susan Thomas