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Oil-rich Venezuela is experiencing crippling gas shortages

Venezuelans line up to fill their tanks at "international price" in a petrol station in San Cristobal, Tachira state. Venezuela, the country with the largest crude oil reserves in the world, is currently facing a crippling gas shortage. (George Castellanos/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela, the country with the largest crude oil reserves on the planet, is currently facing a crippling gas shortage — just the latest shortage of everyday necessities to affect the economically beleaguered nation.

According to Deutsche Welle, getting gas hasn't usually been a problem in Venezuela's capitol city of Caracas, but the country's main domestic producer — state-controlled company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.  — is struggling with distribution, and a backlog of payment delays to suppliers has caused a massive slowdown.

"I can't find 95 octane gasoline anywhere," Jose Paredes, in Caracas' wealthy Altamira district, told the Reuters news agency. "We're an oil-producing country! It's pathetic."

PDVSA head, Ysmel Serrano says the internal shipping problems will be solved soon, saying, "we're strengthening deliveries to the center of the country to stabilize gasoline supplies."

But while Serrano is asking for calm and optimism, one union leader is saying that problems are a lot worse than the state-controlled company head is letting on. Ivan Freites, a union leader and prominent critic of the state-run oil company, said refineries only had oil inventories for two days compared with a standard of 15.

According to The Associated Press, analysts say the Venezuelan petroleum market, PDVSA especially, has been hit by the continued falling oil prices, causing financial and operational difficulties.

PDVSA isn't the only Venezuelan state-run company facing financial difficulties. Venezuela's government has a controlling interest in over 500 companies, and 70 percent of them are losing money.

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