HOUSTON - Venezuela, which is a member of OPEC and sits on the world's second-largest oil reserves, faces near-term political uncertainty after Hugo Chavez's death that could bring further turmoil to its beleaguered oil industry.
Even under the best circumstances it would take years to increase production and exports, analysts say.
Venezuela's oil industry saw exports fall by nearly half during Chavez's time as president. He died Tuesday.
But any new government would have a powerful economic incentive to make that a priority.
Exports fell from three million barrels per day in 2000 to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2011. Chavez relied heavily on the country's oil income to fund social programs, but reinvested relatively little of it to exploit new oil fields and replace depleted ones.