Venezuela has dropped from being our number one oil supplier, as it was in 1998, to our fifth-largest supplier. The Energy Department statistics just came out today and for the first time in a long time, Venezuela's exports to the U.S. dropped below 1 million barrels a day, to only 955,000. See here.
Chavez and his pals claim it's because they're selling oil to China, and for sure it's up, but I wouldn't be so sure about that being the main reason. There have been vast breakdowns in Venezuela's supply chain, like this one here, which affects Venezuela's ability to produce oil. That, and a lot of things, make Venezuela an unreliable source of oil for the U.S., and thus declining in importance.
Meanwhile, today Venezuela doubled its planned international borrowing (who the heck would lend to them!) through the issuance of a $7.5 billion bond, which is up from the planned $3 billion. Clearly, people want to buy the bond, but just as clearly, the Venezuelan oil company needs foreign investment from this bond to keep its oil wells producing. Chavez has already robbed the foreign oil investor companies of their assets so the only thing left to do to get cash is to get it from the banks, as this debt illustrates.
The main thing this points to is that Venezuela's oil company is spending more than it's earning, and its declining earnings are not being made up elsewhere. It's all a function of declining oil sales to the U.S.
While Venezuela is selling us less oil, our oil import consumption is up, based on the statistics provided by all but 2 countries (Venezuela and Angola). The Mexicans are selling us more. The Saudis are selling us more. The Canadians are selling us more. Two players worth noting who are selling us significantly more are the Colombians and the Brazilians, both of whom nearly doubled their oil sales to us. That bears watching as the strategic picture evolves. One month's sale doesn't tell us a whole lot, but a long pattern of it will be interesting news.