LONDON- * Energy research and consulting firm Rystad sees Venezuelan crude oil production plummeting to 680,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, from 1.34 million bpd at the end of 2018, under a low-case scenario.
* "In the low case scenario, where the status-quo continues and Venezuela is unable to offset the effects of U.S. sanctions and secure new financing, the country could see an additional 20 pct reduction in crude output this year, dropping to about 800,000 bpd, before sliding to 680,000 bpd in 2020," Rystad said.
* One factor contributing to the decline is Venezuela's inability under U.S. sanctions to import diluents, such as naphtha, to blend with its heavy crude.
* Venezuela currently imports 60,000 bpd of naphtha from the United States, mainly from national oil company PDVSA's U.S. refining subsidiary Citgo, Rystad said.
* "Rystad Energy forecasts that some operators in Venezuela will run out of the crucial diluent by March. Without diluent, the current 200,000 bpd of heavy crude exports are at risk," said Rystad Energy analyst Paola Rodriguez-Masiu.
(Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar Editing by David Goodman) ((Ahmad.Ghaddar@thomsonreuters.com; +442075424435; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))