Venezuela is Home to the World's Largest Oil Reserves

The chart shows the countries with the largest proven crude oil reserves as of 2017.

On Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced new sanctions against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro, targeting the state-owned oil company PdVSA, a move that appears to align with the United States’ intention to “use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.” 

PdVSA is Maduro’s primary source of cash, and Mnuchin said that targeting the company will prevent further diversion of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro. According to Mnuchin, the measures will block $7 billion in assets and could result in more than $11 billion in lost assets over the next year. 

The U.S. is calling on Maduro to hand over control to interim president Guaidó or to make way for democratic elections.  
As the chart below shows, Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Furthermore, the country’s economy is extremely dependent on oil exports, making this the most severe sanction the U.S. has imposed on Maduro’s government to date.  

In addition, the United States is the biggest market for Venezuelan crude oil, with 2017 reports showing that the U.S. imported more than 600 thousand barrels a day of crude oil from Venezuela. 

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