The supposedly crude oil-backed Venezuelan Petro (PTR) cryptocurrency is retaining a value of almost $59 according to the official government calculator, diverging far from the current market price of about $27.70. The Petro is meant to represent the value of one barrel of crude oil.

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Crude oil prices have recently collapsed from a double hit: both from the economic impacts of the  COVID-19 pandemic, and from a raging price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. The price of a barrel of crude recently dropped below $22 for the first time in nearly twenty years.

nearly 20 yearsUSDBRO chart by TradingView

This stark divergence of figures begs the question of how Venezuelan oil is valued. As CryptoGlobe recently reported, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has claimed that the Petro is backed by between five and 30 million barrels of oil. Reuters recently reported that the Venezuelan government actually possessed 39 million barrels of oil.

But in fact, the status of Venezuela’s oil industry has recently become unclear, after a recent (February 2020) New York Times piece reported that “a stealth privatization is taking place” in the potentially oil-rich country. The sole state-owned oil company, PDVSA, set up in 2007, has always had a low production capacity compared to international standards, and in recent years American-sponsored sanctions have crippled what was left of Venezuela’s oil industry.

At any rate, the Maduro government has been largely unsuccessful in finding buyers or markets for the Petro cryptocurrency, after the U.S. outlawed its citizens from trading it. It is nearly impossible to find the token for sale on any cryptocurrency exchange, and thus, nearly impossible to define a market price.

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