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Tempers flare as oil-rich Venezuela starts to ration gas at the pumps

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Maria Lopez complains about gasoline rationing that Venezuela — home to the world’s largest oil reserves — has started introducing in some areas to tackle extreme fuel shortages.

“It’s a joke,” Lopez said

But for ordinary Venezuelans, it is a cruel joke without a punchline — a driver recently died of a heart attack after waiting in line for days to fill his tank.

Since Monday, drivers in the western state of Lara can buy only 30 liters (eight gallons) of fuel a week, while a rationing system based on vehicles’ license plates has been introduced in Bolivar state in the south and Monagas in the west.

Fuel shortages have long been chronic in the smuggling-prone states close to the border with Colombia. But the situation worsened in recent weeks as the United States slapped more economic sanctions on Venezuela and its state-run petrol company PDVSA.

Even though President Nicolas Maduro said last August that the rock-bottom fuel prices would go up, there has not been an increase so far.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said Venezuela’s oil output has dropped from 3.2 million barrels per day a decade ago to 1.03 million barrels in April this year. Other estimates put that output as low as 768,000 barrels per day.

AFP

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