US sanctions on oil-rich Venezuela appear to be taking hold, resulting in long lines for fuel in the South American nation's second-largest city, Maracaibo.
Some drivers said they'd had to wait almost 24 hours to fuel up, and people have been grabbing catnaps on the bonnets of cars or in truck beds.
Nearing empty and stuck in line, infectious diseases doctor Yoli Urdaneta said she couldn't make her shift to treat patients.
"I've spent four days trying to get gasoline," Urdaneta said. "But I couldn't."
A satellite cruising over Maracaibo on Thursday captured pictures of cars lined up for 1.6km through the city to the pumps, according to by Maxar Technologies, a US-based space technology company.
Russ Dallen, a Miami-based partner at the brokerage firm Caracas Capital Markets, said on Sunday that stiff US sanctions on top of decaying refineries has begun to hit home.
Venezuela doesn't have the cash to import key ingredients to keep up production in a country with the world's largest oil reserves, said Dallen, who estimated that the state run oil-firm PDVSA is producing 10 to 15 per cent of its capacity.
"It's all coming together in a toxic brew," Dallen said. "That is really having a devastating effect."
The Trump administration this year sanctioned PDVSA in an effort aimed at driving President Nicolas Maduro from office, while throwing its support behind opposition leader Juan Guado.
The US sanctions essentially cut off Maduro's government from its Houston-based subsidiary Citgo, depriving officials of an estimated $US11 billion ($A16 billion) in hard currency from exports this year. US officials say this cash flow long bankrolled what they call Maduro's "dictatorship".
Sanctions also put the squeeze on Venezuela access to diluents needed to thin its tar-like heavy crude so it can be piped over 160km from the field to be turned into petrol.
And the political stalemate shows few signs of drawing near its end.
In a recent flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at peacefully solving Venezuela's crisis, European officials said they held intensive meetings over two days in Caracas with key players.
At about the same time, Maduro's government and the opposition sent representatives to talks in Norway. Officials engaged in both efforts reported no breakthroughs.
The panic over shortages has crept into the capital, Caracas, leading to moderately long lines for the last three days at many stations.
Australian Associated Press