Venezuela this year almost doubled its oil production from last year’s decades-low as its state-owned company struck deals that let it pump and process more extra heavy crude into exportable grades.

The surprising reversal began as state-run Petroleos de Venezuela, known as PDVSA, won help from small drilling firms by rolling over old debts and later obtained steady supplies of a key diluent from Iran. The two lifted output to 824,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November, well above the first three-quarters of the year and 90 percent more than the monthly average a year earlier.

Whether it could continue to ramp up production was unclear. Years of unpaid bills, mismanagement and, more recently, US sanctions have cut its access to specialised drilling equipment and foreign investment. The sanctions have also limited its

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