How to buy oil and gas from Venezuela
Venezuela has been hit by a crippling oil price war, as investors scramble to find cash.
In the last three months alone, the country’s biggest oil producer has been on a $40bn short-term borrowing spree.
But it is not easy, with a cash-strapped government facing its biggest oil production shortfall in 30 years.
Here’s what you need to know.
The oil war The war has raged on since President Nicolas Maduro launched a series of strikes against the world’s largest oil producers, including Russia and China.
In January, oil prices fell to $28 a barrel from $100 earlier this year.
On Tuesday, they plunged to $21 a barrel, the lowest since October 2014.
But analysts say that has not stopped Mr Maduro from targeting other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has a large share of Venezuela’s oil exports.
Venezuela’s government blames the Saudis for sabotaging the economy with a range of policies including price controls, restrictions on foreign imports and a ban on oil imports from the US and other countries.
This week, Mr Maduro ordered a blockade on US oil imports to try to shore up domestic supplies.
Mr Maduro’s government has also been accused of using its oil reserves to fund domestic inflation, fuelling a boom in the black market.
The latest attack comes after weeks of protests against Mr Maduro, which have seen more than 2,000 people die.
Venezuela has also seen its oil revenues fall in the first three months of the year.
“This has been a brutal economic war for years and now it is getting even more brutal,” says Dr Nanae Parejas, the head of research at the Centre for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Caracas.
“If the oil market continues to plunge and the government is unable to raise revenues to support the national economy, it will be hard to maintain the current level of prices.”
1:45 Oil prices drop to record lows The price of Brent crude oil dropped to $25 a barrel on Tuesday, the biggest fall in a year.
But Mr Maduro is not alone in his quest to reduce oil production, with President Nicolas Bolivar himself saying last week that he would not cut production if the oil price remains low.
The war in Venezuela has seen some of the world go on hold, but it is far from over, as it has dragged on for weeks.
What you need from the BBC News Oil Price War story: Who’s in the oil business?
Oil prices fell on Tuesday to the lowest level since October 2012, and are now down by more than 40% since June, when the OPEC members reached a deal to cut production.
The cartel agreed to reduce output by 3.2m barrels a day in the next two years, a target Mr Maduro has set himself.
The US and Russia have been the biggest importers of Venezuelan oil.
Russia has already reduced its crude output by 30% since the start of the war, and the US has cut imports by 25%.
With the war in oil, the global oil market has turned into a zero-sum game.
Some oil producers are taking profits off the table while others are looking to find new revenue streams.
The conflict has also made Venezuela one of the least transparent countries in the world.
As well as the embargo on the import of US crude, the US government has been accused by Venezuelan and international organisations of selling arms to Iran and Venezuela.
Mr Bolivars government has denied these accusations.
Who is buying oil?
Most oil companies are foreign investors, but the oil giant Exxon Mobil, for example, has been forced to slash production due to the war.
It has also slashed its exploration budget and has cut its drilling licence.
The companies that are actually producing oil have been forced into a tight relationship with the government, which makes them dependent on it for support.
The world’s biggest companies have been spending big to get access to the market.
Shell has already cut back on its exploration and production in Venezuela.
Chevron, Shell’s biggest competitor, is also cutting its oil production in the country, and is working with the Venezuelan government to increase production.
Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil are all members of the International Energy Agency (IEA), a group that promotes oil independence around the world, and has been criticised for not doing enough to tackle Venezuela’s production crisis.
How much does it cost?
The price Venezuela has charged for its oil has been slashed to below $15 a barrel.
But that will be reduced further.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that it will cost $50 a barrel to produce a barrel of Venezuelan crude, which is still more than the current price of $40.
But even at that price, Venezuela is not likely to reach its production targets.
“The price of oil has dropped to the level that the government will not allow,” says David Waddell, the chief oil analyst at energy consultancy International Energy Management.
“There will be a need for some of these firms to sell their assets to other companies.”
The oil market is also not in the hands of all the