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Venezuelan oil falls below $40 a barrel

Caracas, Jan 16 (EFE).- The average price of Venezuela’s crude basket fell $3.25 this week to $39.19, continuing the downward trend that led President Nicolas Maduro to visit petroleum-producing countries and lobby for his plan to reverse the decline.

“Crude prices this week continued to fall due to the outlook for a slowdown in global demand and signs of abundant supply of crude in the main consumer centers,” Venezuela’s Oil and Mining Ministry said Friday in its weekly report.

Venezuela, a founding member of OPEC, has seen its crude basket fall sharply in recent weeks from an average price of $90.19 on Sept. 12.

In similar fashion, the average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes fell by $4.60 this week to $43.01, while Brent crude ended at $48.10 on Friday, down from $52.55 at the end of last week.

West Texas Intermediate, meanwhile, closed at $47.01, down from $49.62 last Friday.

Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, sells around 3 million barrels of oil per day, mostly to the United States and China.

Proceeds from oil sales account for more than 90 percent of Venezuela’s hard-currency revenues and fund half of the spending by the national government, whose 2015 budget is based on a per-barrel price of $60.

Maduro departed on Jan. 5 on a tour of petroleum-producing countries – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Qatar, Iran and China – to try to build a consensus for a plan to cut supplies and lift oil prices back to their previous levels