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By Marianna Parraga
HOUSTON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Venezuela, traditionally a prominent oil exporter, will make a sharply smaller contribution to the global oil market in 2017 as an acute political and economic crisis affects its crude production, Columbia University said in a report released on Tuesday
As the political opposition pushes for elections to replace President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's economy has worsened, creating doubts about the ability of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member to pay its external debt. Its largest industry, oil, is slowing down and showing signs of mismanagement.
"It is the underlying trend in Venezuelan crude production that constitutes the most important risk ahead for oil markets," said Luisa Palacios, senior managing director at Medley Global Advisors and fellow at Columbia's University Center on Global Energy Policy.
Global oversupply of 1 million to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2014 has caused the worst oil price crash in a generation. Prices have languished around $45 a barrel, although the market has started to rebalance as some exporters have reduced shipments.
Venezuela's crude output in June declined to 2.36 million barrels per day (bpd), its lowest monthly level since a strike in 2002-2003, according to official figures reported to OPEC. In 2008, it was producing more than 3.2 million bpd.
The Oil Ministry last week said output rebounded in July. But statistics on state-run Petróleos de Venezuela's crude exports and rig count showed a continued decline last month, and experts say that the country is on track this year to suffer its steepest oil output drop in 14 years.
The Columbia report cited Venezuela's poor response to low crude prices compared with other oil exporting countries.
"The way the country is adjusting to the oil price collapse is leaving its economy, society, and oil industry in much worse shape than its competitors in an oil market where the pool of investable resources has shrunk," Palacios said in the report.
A weak government and institutions are disabling all possible avenues for economic policy and political change, she said.
So far, Venezuela's National Electoral Council has indicated that any potential recall vote against Maduro, who is grappling with skyrocketing inflation and food shortages, would probably not be held until 2017.
Recalling Maduro in 2016 would trigger new elections but a delay until next year would allow him to be replaced by his vice president, who would serve the remainder of his term through 2019. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Terry Wade, Richard Chang and Bill Trott)