For the first time, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez admitted on May 3 that state oil company Petróleos 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 Rose Brady

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