Venezuela is the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and among the top 10 countries in total proven oil reserves. Venezuela also supplies about 11 percent of current U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products and wholly owns five refineries in the U.S. Consequently, Venezuela is a key player in the future energy security of the United States and the world. The current global oil market is tight and may be more susceptible to short-term supply disruptions and higher and more volatile prices. Recently, tension between Venezuela and the United States has caused concern about the stability of Venezuelan oil supplies. On several occasions, Venezuela's President has threatened to stop exporting oil to the U.S. or to close Venezuela's U.S.-based refineries. In this context, GAO analyzed: (1) how Venezuela's crude oil production and exports of crude oil to the U.S. has changed in recent years, (2) the potential impacts of a reduction in Venezuelan oil exports to the U.S., and (3) the status of U.S. government programs and activities to ensure a reliable supply of oil from Venezuela. Commenting on a draft of the report, the State and Commerce Departments generally agreed with the report, but DOE contended that the report presents an "alarmist view" of U.S. energy security. We disagree and believe the report presents a contextually balanced treatment of the issue.
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