Petroleum, located in the Maracaibo Basin and in the eastern part of the country, dominates the Venezuelan economy. Crude and refined oil are the main source of government revenue and account for about one-third of the GDP. In 2004 Venezuela produced almost 1 billion barrels. Much of its oil is exported to the Netherlands Antilles for refining. Venezuela is a founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Venezuelan government nationalized the petroleum industry in 1976, although private investment and foreign participation has been permitted since 1992. In 2007 the country had petroleum reserves estimated at 80 billion barrels.
Venezuela also is a major producer of natural gas; output in 2003 was 29.7 billion cubic meters (1.05 trillion cubic feet). Venezuela has tapped its vast reserves of bitumen to produce liquid coal, an emulsion of bitumen and water principally for use in power plants.
Other minerals commercially exploited in Venezuela include iron ore, bauxite, diamonds, gold, silver, platinum, coal, salt, copper, tin, asbestos, phosphates, titanium, and mica. In 2000 the country adopted new mining regulations intended to encourage greater private-sector and foreign investment in the mining sector. But growth failed to follow, largely because of labor unrest.
The government of Venezuela has given high priority to the development of heavy industry since the 1960s. It established a significant steel industry and began the production of aluminum and petrochemicals, especially nitrogen-based fertilizers. In the late 1970s, a significant portion of the country’s oil revenue was invested in these state-owned industries. Ciudad Guayana, a city founded in an area rich in natural resources, became a major industrial center. But petroleum revenues dropped in the 1980s, as did investment in industry. By the late 1990s, the manufacturing sector was contracting, smaller firms shut down, and jobs were lost. Political instability in the early 2000s added to the problems of the manufacturing sector.
The leading manufactured goods of Venezuela include refined petroleum and petroleum products, steel, aluminum, fertilizer, cement, tires, motor vehicles, processed food, beverages, clothing, and wood items. "Venezuela" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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