NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros speaks at the 69th United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2014 in New York City. The annual event brings political leaders from around the globe together to report on issues meet and look for solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)2014 Getty Images
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blasted the United States Wednesday for its large-scale use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, saying it is flooding the market with oil produced with environmentally destructive methods.
The United States, one of the world's biggest practitioners of fracking, a controversial technique that involves pumping a pressurized fluid - usually composed of water, sand and chemicals - into a shale formation to create a fracture in the rock layer and release trapped petroleum or natural gas - has used that technology to double oil output to 8.5 million barrels per day in six years.
That higher production combined with Europe's long-standing economic woes and a growth slowdown in China, the market for 30 percent of global oil production, has caused oil prices to plunge in recent months and taken a toll on the finances of Venezuela and other major oil exporters.
"Look where oil is going, 58 and something (dollars a barrel) yesterday and it's hovering around there. We're doing everything to get oil back to the price where it needs to be," the leftist president, whose government has consistently pushed for $100-a-barrel crude, said at an official function in the eastern state of Barinas that was broadcast by state-run VTV.
"The oil they're taking from (shale deposits) and the gas. They've flooded the international market to batter the Russian economy ..., Iran and to hurt us, Venezuela," Maduro said.
Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, exports 2.5 million barrels of the 3 million barrels it produces per day, and those sales account for more than 90 percent of the nation's hard-currency earnings, income it needs to import essential products.
Maduro says, however, that his country has an advantage because the cost of producing Venezuelan oil averages about $12 a barrel, compared to a production cost for a barrel of shale oil of around $60.
The steady drop in crude prices has triggered a 35 percent decline in the hard-currency earnings of Venezuela, whose 2015 budget is based on a per-barrel price of $60.
Venezuela's crude basket sold at an average of $98.08 per barrel in 2013 but that price has fallen to an annual average of $91.17 thus far in 2014, according to official figures released last week by the Oil and Mining Ministry.
The price of Venezuela's crude ended last week at an average of $61.92, the lowest level since June 2009.
Separately, Maduro said the United States' heavy use of fracking is causing damage to the Earth's crust and putting the American people at risk of a major earthquake.
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