Embattled Venezuela with its current political and economic turmoil should be front and center for oil traders as we head into 2018, according to industry experts and political analysts.
"The market is rebalancing, but there are still a number of producers that are poised for real challenges. I think Venezuela is the story we all have to watch in the first quarter of 2018 … We really have a country that is poised to go out of business," Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told CNBC Tuesday.
On Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that Manuel Quevedo, a former housing minister and major general in the National Guard (one of the country's armed forces), was to become the country's new oil minister and head of the state oil company PDVSA.
The move comes after the erratic president — branded a "dictator" by the U.S. — gave his support to a dramatic purge of the company with the arrests of 50 employees since the summer. There has also been several senior executives detained at the company's U.S. refinery subsidiary CITGO, on various corruption and embezzlement charges.