© . FILE PHOTO: An oilfield worker walks next to oil rigs at an oil well operated by Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, in the oil-rich Orinoco belt, April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/CARACAS () – Venezuela’s economy could hit 20% this year could rise, investment bank Credit Suisse (SIX:) said in a report, sharply raising its previous forecast of 4.5% amid growing demand for its crude since Russia was sanctioned for its invasion of Ukraine. Credit Suisse also forecast gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 8% in 2023, compared to a previous estimate of 3%. “These aren’t typos! If we’re right, these could well be one of the strongest growth prints globally for these years,” the April 6 report said. Venezuela’s economy bottomed out in 2020, and the new forecast is based largely on oil GDP expected to rise by more than 20%, it said. A high-level meeting between US and Venezuelan officials in Caracas in early March opened the doors to talks about a possible relaxation of sanctions Washington has imposed on the OPEC member’s oil industry since 2019. Credit Suisse said Venezuela is short of Russian oil, pointing out that the United States will have imported about 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil products from Russia in 2021, while Venezuela’s oil export capacity was between 500,000 and 700,000 bpd last year. “It seems feasible that the Venezuelan authorities will increase that number with an easing of sanctions,” he said. “Suddenly, amid concerns about oil supplies, some recalled that the world’s alleged largest oil reserves are located in a country relatively close to the US.” The prospect of easing sanctions has led state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and some foreign companies to take measures to anticipate higher oil exports. But export data shows that PDVSA is still hampered by years of mismanagement and lack of basic maintenance of key infrastructure for producing, upgrading, refining, storing and exporting oil.