Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has pledged to resolve shortages of diesel that farmers say are complicating the planting and harvesting of crops, and urged the oil minister to boost domestic production of the fuel.
Maduro blamed the shortages on US sanctions on state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela.
The US last October wound down an exemption to the sanctions that allowed PDVSA to swap crude exports for diesel imports.
“We must regularise the issue of diesel with national production,” Maduro said, calling on Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami to resume normal supply within 60 days. “If we could import, we would be buoyant. We will be buoyant in the production of oil products.”
PDVSA distributes diesel free, and truckers have reported long waits outside service stations, while farmers have reported irregular distribution.
Diesel output at the company’s refineries has been relatively steady, but experts say output is still below domestic demand.
Venezuela’s Fedeagro farmers’ group said on Wednesday that diesel shortages led to the loss of about 30% of the country’s bean harvest and could complicate the upcoming corn planting season.
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