LUIS ROBAYO | AFP | Getty Images
An anti-government demonstrator stands next to a national flag during an opposition protest blocking the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas on May 27, 2017.
A nationwide power failure in crisis-stricken Venezuela could trigger “serious disruption” to the oil market, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Friday, but OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia should have the means to offset any further production woes in Caracas.
The IEA report comes at a time when Venezuela, home to the world’s biggest oil reserves, is in the midst of the Western Hemisphere’s worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory.
“The electricity crisis in Venezuela has paralysed most of the country for significant periods of time,” the Paris-based group said in its closely-watched report on Friday.
“Although there are signs that the situation is improving, the degradation of the power system is such that we cannot be sure if the fixes are durable… During the past week, industry operations were seriously disrupted and ongoing losses on a significant scale could present a challenge to the market.”
A failure at the Guri hydropower plant last Thursday plunged most of the South American country into darkness for days.
The outage crippled the OPEC member country’s oil exports and left millions of citizens struggling to find food and water.
Power was restored to much of Venezuela on Tuesday, but many areas in the oil-rich, but cash-poor, country remain without electricity. It is widely expected that normal services may not resume for weeks — or possibly months.