For the first time, Venezuelan President Hugo Ch?vez admitted on May 3 that state oil company Petr?leos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is pumping 100,000 barrels per day less than its OPEC-agreed target of 3.165 million bpd. Chavez has steadfastly denied any problems with the industry since he fired 18,000 workers and managers after a 2003 strike aimed at toppling him. Now he's blaming poor maintenance of aging oil wells and perhaps sabotage by disgruntled workers. What's unclear is whether a new shake-up lies ahead. Analysts say the shortfall is worse than acknowledged -- at least 400,000 bpd. Venezuela is the No. 4 oil supplier to the U.S.
EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady