Reforming Venezuela’s oil and gas sector

An analysis of competing fiscal, contractual and institutional regimes
Research paper Updated 20 July 2023 Published 20 May 2021 ISBN: 978 1 78413 471 6
An oil pump in Venezuela.

Igor Hernández

Graduate Fellow, Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies

José La Rosa Reyes

Latin America energy research analyst, Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies

In recent years, Venezuela has had to contend with several crises that have left its hydrocarbons industry in a state of dramatic decline. Reinvigorating the production of oil and gas in the country will require significant changes to the legal and institutional framework that oversees the sector. 

The opposition parties in the National Assembly have introduced a draft Hydrocarbons Bill that proposes reforms to the sector. Although the Maduro administration has dismissed these proposals, they offer a glimpse at the extent of reform required to boost the sector.

This paper also looks at five countries that compete with Venezuela in the global oil and gas markets, examining their respective legal and institutional frameworks for the sector. All five have mature hydrocarbons industries open to FDI with significant oil reserves and, together, they demonstrate real world examples of the proposed institutional, legal and fiscal arrangements currently discussed in Venezuela.

Attracting international investments will be key to reversing the fortunes of Venezuela’s oil and gas industry. However, the country’s protracted political conflict continues to make reform much harder.