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The Associated Press

The U.S. wants to use shale oil as a geopolitical weapon to destroy Venezuela by flooding the market with supply and driving prices down, according to the OPEC member.

The U.S. wants to use shale oil as a geopolitical weapon to destroy Venezuela by flooding the market with supply and driving prices down, according to the OPEC member.

Hydraulic fracturing, the method used to remove shale oil trapped in rock, is “destructive,” President Nicolas Maduro said during a national address broadcast on radio and television. Venezuela’s economy shrank 2.8 percent last year as crude slumped almost 50 percent amid the fastest pace of U.S. production in more than three decades while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted calls to cut output.

“The U.S. wants to use oil as a geopolitical weapon,” Maduro, 52, said during his speech on Jan. 21. “They’re trying to destroy Venezuela.”

OPEC members Venezuela and Iran have questioned the group’s decision to maintain its quota. Oman, the biggest Middle Eastern oil producer that’s not part of OPEC, is having a “really difficult time” because of low prices, Oil Minister Mohammed Al-Rumhy said at a conference in Kuwait City.

Maduro has avoided substantial cuts to social programs amid the slide in crude, the commodity that provides 97 percent of Venezuela’s dollars. He’s planning a new currency system for non-essential imports while maintaining the primary exchange rate for food and medicine.

Brent, the global benchmark grade for more than half the world’s oil, slid 33 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $48.70 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 4:34 p.m. Singapore time. West Texas Intermediate lost 52 cents to $47.26.

Oil reached $38 a barrel in Venezuela and will never return to $100, according to the president.

NA
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