""There is a danger that British firms might miss out. In this country, oil and politics are intertwined. Many companies are waiting for the election result," said Osmel Molina, deputy manager of the Carabobo region. "They hope for higher profits if the political situation changes. That's why there is so much support for the opposition. They don't necessarily want to oust Chávez, but they do want a weak government so they can control the biggest oil resources in the world."
Venezuela has an oil-dependent economy – PDVSA accounts for 95% of the country's export earnings. Domestically, the mix of populist politics, super-abundant oil and second-rate refining technology has left the country with a peculiar system in which the state sells crude for $100 (£61) a barrel, buys back petrol at $400, then sells it on to domestic drivers at such a discount that a full tank is cheaper than a cup of coffee. A gallon costs about 6p, leading to a lucrative cross-border petrol-smuggling business. Neither candidate has dared to commit to a raise."