Latin America

Venezuela’s PDVSA to buy up to 17 fuel cargoes on the open market -tenders

23 Jun 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA is seeking to buy up to 6.32 million barrels of fuel in one of its largest offers on the open market in recent years, according to documents seen by Reuters on Thursday. The firm, whose refining network is working at record lows since March due to lack of light oil, equipment malfunctions and other incidents, has increased fuel purchases this year to avoid gasoline shortages in the country. The 17 fuel cargoes of gasoline blendstock, ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), catalytic naphtha, vacuum gasoil (VGO) and components for motor gasoline are expected to be received from July through December, the tender documents say. Earlier this month PDVSA awarded a group of firms, including Russia’s Lukoil, previous tenders to buy 600,000 barrels of […]

Venezuelan crisis takes center stage at OAS meeting in Mexico

21 Jun 2017   Venezuela

Governments from across the Americas on Tuesday chastised Venezuela’s socialist leadership for its handling of a political and economic crisis, prompting the OPEC nation’s foreign minister to brand the critics as the “lapdogs of imperialism.” The United States, Brazil and 10 other members of the 34-nation Organization of American States issued a letter accusing Venezuela of undermining democracy, failing to feed its people and violating rights. “Considering the interruption of the democratic process in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, we believe that there should be a settled solution that includes all Venezuelan parties for the benefit of the people of that nation,” the letter said. It called for the release of political prisoners, respect for rights, an election timetable, a “humanitarian channel” to ship food and medicine, and the […]

U.S. Supreme Court Backs Chevron In $9B Ecuador Pollution Case

20 Jun 2017   Ecuador

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied to hear an appeal by an American lawyer to try to collect US$8.65 billion in pollution damages from Chevron, handing a victory to the U.S. oil supermajor over a pollution judgment issued in Ecuador, which lower U.S. courts had earlier agreed had been obtained via corruption. In August 2016, a U.S. appeals court blocked the enforcement of a US$9.5-billion judgment against Chevron, upholding a lower court ruling that had found that a pollution judgment against the U.S. oil major in Ecuador was the product of fraud and racketeering, and therefore, unenforceable in the U.S. In March 2014, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the case against Chevron in an Ecuadorean court was the product of fraud and racketeering orchestrated by a New York lawyer, concluding that the judgment should not be enforced. Judge Kaplan said the case had been corrupted by […]

Exxon Proceeds With $4.4B Liza Oil Development Offshore Guyana

17 Jun 2017   Guyana

ExxonMobil said on Friday that it had made a final investment decision to proceed with the first phase of development of the Liza field offshore Guyana, which is expected to cost just over US$4.4 billion. The Phase 1 development at Liza field—one of the largest oil discoveries of the past decade—will include a subsea production system and a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel designed to produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day, Exxon said. Production is expected to begin by 2020, less than five years after discovery of the field. The U.S. major’s development plan has received regulatory approval from Guyana’s government, Exxon added. “We’re excited about the tremendous potential of the Liza field and accelerating first production through a phased development in this lower cost environment,” Liam Mallon, president, ExxonMobil Development Company, said in the press release. The Liza field is part of the […]

Cuba Scrambles As Venezuela’s Oil Industry Collapses

15 Jun 2017   Cuba, Venezuela

As Venezuela’s oil industry goes down it flames, it’s looking like it may just take Cuba down with it. Venezuela, once the crude powerhouse of South and Central America, is no longer able to produce enough oil to sustain its own economy, much less those of other countries. Cuba is frantically drilling in search for new reserves and reaching out for new suppliers, but there is no guarantee they’ll be able to stabilize their oil income any time soon. Cuba became dependent on Venezuelan oil in the 1990’s, when they were sold cut-price crude in exchange for the services of skilled laborers in order to bail them out of economic collapse in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. Currently, Cuba relies on foreign oil for more than two thirds of its daily consumption, with over 100,000 barrels of crude flowing from Venezuela every day for years. […]

Exclusive: PDVSA leaves Bahamas oil terminal, expands in St Eustatius – sources

14 Jun 2017   Venezuela

Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA is moving millions of barrels of oil from a Bahamas storage facility after terminating a contract with the owner, U.S. Buckeye Partners LP, according to internal data and sources close to the decision. Buckeye and PDVSA had tried to resolve payment delays and other frequent problems that stalled some shipments, the sources said. But PDVSA decided to shift its oil to the Statia terminal, operated by U.S. NuStar Energy LP, in the neighboring island of St. Eustatius. The termination is another sign of how PDVSA’s deteriorating finances have strained its relationship with business partners. The state-owned company has struggled to maintain its tanker fleet on the water and to keep operations running to maximize income for […]

Doctors Flee Desperate Venezuela to Work in Safer Places

13 Jun 2017   Venezuela

On a recent day in this remote island town, Dr. Jhomar Yansen rushed to operate on a man who had been kicked in the gut by a sheep and was suffering severe internal bleeding. The surgeon worked in his native Venezuela saving patients with gunshot and knife wounds until last year, when he fled the chaotic, impoverished country like thousands of other professionals. Now he finds himself as part of a cluster of Venezuelan…

Exclusive: Trump administration concerned about U.S. firms giving financial ‘lifeline’ to Venezuela

5 Jun 2017   Venezuela

The Trump administration is concerned about any action by U.S. companies that provides a financial lifeline to Venezuela’s government, senior White House officials told Reuters, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc came under fire for purchasing $2.8 billion of state oil company bonds at a steep discount. Venezuela’s political opposition and some U.S. lawmakers have condemned the purchase of so-called “hunger bonds” as a way to prop up President Nicolas Maduro’s cash-strapped government, accused of being behind food shortages affecting millions of Venezuelans in a worsening crisis. The New York-based investment bank said last week that it never transacted directly with Venezuelan authorities when it bought the bonds of oil firm PDVSA for pennies on the dollar. “We’re concerned by anything that provides a lifeline for the status quo,” […]

How a new kind of protest movement has risen in Venezuela

5 Jun 2017   Venezuela

A plywood shield in one hand, a gas mask over his face, Victor Ortega marched down the middle of the four-lane elevated highway, his eyes fixed on the front lines. Up ahead, the Venezuelan army and police had sealed off the street. A large armored vehicle, known as the “whale,” anchored the military blockade, with riot troops fanned out to the rear. Behind Ortega, thousands of protesters slowed down, awaiting the inevitable. Any minute, the day’s melee would begin. Ortega, just steps away from the front now, was thinking about his father, a member of the country’s security forces. The military career that Ortega, an only child, once considered his birthright — several members of his family have had jobs protecting the socialist government — has been […]

Exclusive: U.S. considers possible sanctions against Venezuela oil sector – officials

5 Jun 2017   Venezuela

The Trump administration is considering possible sanctions on Venezuela’s vital energy sector, including state oil company PDVSA, senior White House officials said, in what would be a major escalation of U.S. efforts to pressure the country’s embattled leftist government amid a crackdown on the opposition. The idea of striking at the core of Venezuela’s economy, which relies on oil for some 95 percent of export revenues, has been discussed at high levels of the administration as part of a wide-ranging review of U.S. options, but officials said it remains under debate and action is not imminent. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the United States could hit PDVSA as part of a “sectoral” sanctions package that would take aim at the OPEC nation’s entire energy […]

BPTT Makes 2 ‘Significant’ Gas Discoveries Offshore Trinidad

BP Trinidad & Tobago makes 2 ‘significant’ gas discoveries with the Savannah and Macadamia exploration wells, offshore Trinidad. BP Trinidad & Tobago (bpTT) has made two ‘significant’ gas discoveries with the Savannah and Macadamia exploration wells, offshore Trinidad, according to a company statement. The results of these wells have unlocked approximately 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in place ‘to underpin new developments in these areas,’ bpTT stated on its website. The Savannah exploration well, which was drilled into an untested fault block east of the Juniper field in water depths of over 500 feet, penetrated hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs in two main intervals with approximately 650 feet of net pay. Based on the success of the Savannah well, bpTT expects to develop these reservoirs via future tieback to the Juniper platform that is due to come online mid-2017. The Macadamia well penetrated hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs in seven intervals with approximately 600 […]

Goldman’s Venezuela Bond Trade Wasn’t Reviewed by Top Executives

3 Jun 2017   Venezuela

When a small brokerage firm contacted Goldman Sachs Asset Management last week offering to sell $2.8 billion of deeply discounted Venezuelan bonds, the response was a quick “yes.” Buying the bonds for pennies on the dollar was a no-brainer for fund managers in the unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. Internally, the purchase didn’t receive heightened scrutiny. The two co-heads of the…

Anti-Maduro protests rage as OAS meets on Venezuela crisis

1 Jun 2017   Venezuela

Venezuelan security forces used water cannons and teargas to disperse tens of thousands of opposition protesters heading toward the foreign ministry on Wednesday as the Organization of American States held another meeting on the crisis. Two months of protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government have convulsed the South American OPEC nation, with at least 59 people killed in the unrest. Opposition supporters demanding elections, freedom for jailed activists, and foreign humanitarian aid, marched onto Caracas’ main highway aiming to reach the ministry downtown. But as happens near-daily with rallies trying to reach government offices, National Guard soldiers blocked their way and drove them back with volleys of gas and shoots of water. Masked youths hurled stones and Molotov cocktails in return. “It’s always the same. We […]

Goldman confirms buying Venezuela bonds after opposition cries foul

31 May 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro shows a copy of a country’s constitution during an official ceremony of a Campaign Command to support reforms to the constitution in Caracas, Venezuela May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello Goldman Sachs Group Inc ( GS.N ) has confirmed it bought Venezuelan bonds after being excoriated by the country’s opposition for financing the embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing sustained protests. The president of the opposition-led Congress accused the bank of financing “dictatorship” after the Wall Street Journal reported Goldman had bought $2.8 billion in bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA at a steep discount. “We bought these bonds, which were issued in 2014, on the secondary market from a broker and did not interact with the Venezuelan government,” Goldman wrote in a statement late on Monday. “We recognize that the situation is complex and evolving and that Venezuela is in crisis. […]

Goldman Sachs Under Fire for Venezuela Bond Deal

30 May 2017   Venezuela

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is on the defensive in Venezuela after it bought bonds that had been held by the struggling country’s central bank in a transaction the government’s opposition decried as a lifeline to President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled administration. Goldman’s purchase of $2.8 billion in bonds, first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, comes as Mr. Maduro’s detractors have recently pleaded with international…

Venezuela opposition accuses Goldman Sachs of financing dictatorship

30 May 2017   Venezuela

The president of Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress on Monday accused Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs of “aiding and abetting the country’s dictatorial regime” following a report that it had bought $2.8 billion in bonds from the cash-strapped country. The Wall Street Journal on Sunday said Goldman paid 31 cents on the dollar for bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA that mature in 2022, or around $865 million, citing five people familiar with the transaction. That comes as two months of opposition protests against President Nicolas Maduro have killed almost 60 people and the collapse of the country’s socialist economy has left millions of people struggling to eat. “Goldman Sachs’ […]

Is Goldman Sachs Playing With Fire In Venezuela?

30 May 2017   Venezuela

Goldman Sachs bought last week around US$2.8 billion bonds issued by Venezuela’s embattled state oil firm PDVSA, betting that a change in the Venezuelan regime could more than double the value of debt, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing five people familiar with the deal. According to the people in the know, last week Goldman’s asset management division paid US$0.31 on the dollar, or around US$865 million, for bonds that PDVSA issued in 2014 and that mature in 2022. The bonds had been held by the central bank of Venezuela, according to The Journal. Due to Venezuela’s risk of default, bonds trade at deeply discounted rates and yields are juicy, at around 30 percent. Goldman’s bond purchase is part of a strategy to increase positions in Venezuelan holdings, The Journal’s sources said. The U.S. bank hadn’t negotiated the bond purchase directly with the Venezuelan government, rather, it […]

Goldman Sachs Bought Venezuela’s State Oil Company’s Bonds Last Week

29 May 2017   Venezuela

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bought about $2.8 billion in Venezuelan bonds that had been held by the oil-rich country’s central bank, a lifeline to President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled government as it scrambles to raise funds in the midst of widening civil unrest. The New York-based bank’s asset management division last week paid 31 cents on the dollar, or about $865 million, for bonds issued by state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA in 2014, which mature in 2022, according to five people familiar…

Venezuelan crude sales to the U.S. bounced in April

11 May 2017   Venezuela

Venezuelan crude sales to the United States recovered in April compared to previous months to reach 741,000 barrels per day (bpd), its highest level since November, due to a larger supply of diluted and upgraded oil, according to Thomson Reuters trade flows data. Oil upgraders capable of converting Orinoco Belt’s extra heavy crude into exportable grades have increased processing in recent weeks after working partially earlier this year, allowing more exports, sources close to the projects said. Sales of Zuata 30, Venezuela’s lightest upgraded crude, to the United States almost doubled to 178,000 bpd in April compared with the previous month, according to the data. Exports of diluted crude […]

Venezuela Braces for Double Whammy If U.S. Imposes Oil Sanctions

9 May 2017   Prices, Venezuela

U.S. raises prospect of sanctions after Maduro’s move Loss of major trade route would raise prices for both Venezuela would be hit from two directions if the U.S. were ever to impose oil-related sanctions against the South American nation where at least 30 have died in anti-government protests in the past month. American drivers may pay more at the pump as well. Speculation about possible new U.S. sanctions has increased because of President Nicolas Maduro’s announced plan to rewrite the constitution. America is the biggest buyer of Venezuelan crude, and Citgo Petroleum Corp., the U.S.-based refiner controlled by Petroleos de Venezuela SA, takes the largest share of those imports, according to analysis of U.S. government data compiled by Bloomberg. If Citgo can’t buy from its parent company because of sanctions, it would be forced to pay more on the spot market, said Mara Roberts, a New York-based analyst for […]

Venezuela Is Starving

6 May 2017   Venezuela

Maria Planchart has had to go through trash to find food for her one-year-old son, Jean Pierre. She is among a growing number of Venezuelans suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Photo: Miguel Gutiérrez for The Wall Street Journal YARE, Venezuela—Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds. His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital…

Venezuela unrest death toll rises, Chavez statue destroyed

6 May 2017   Venezuela

Volunteers, members of a primary care response team, walk together as demonstrators clash with police during a rally against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela. A 20-year-old Venezuelan protester died on Friday after being shot in the head, authorities said, taking fatalities from a month of anti-government unrest to at least 37 as the opposition geared up for more demonstrations. Hecder Lugo was hurt during fighting between demonstrators and security forces in Valencia on Thursday that also injured four others, the local opposition Mayor Enzo Scarano said in a series of tweets. The state prosecutor’s office, which keeps an official count of deaths since protests began against socialist President Nicolas Maduro in early April, confirmed he died after being shot in a protest. Another 717 people have been injured and 152 are still in jail from the hundreds rounded up in widespread unrest around the volatile South American […]

Venezuelans again take to streets as death count jumps to 36

5 May 2017   Venezuela

Students held demonstrations across Caracas Thursday as a two-month-old protest movement that shows no signs of letting up claimed more lives. At the Central University of Venezuela, soldiers bathed hundreds of student protesters in tear gas. Many of the protesters stayed put, and medics in gas masks attended to others with bloodied faces and limbs. Students from another university marched peacefully to deliver a petition to the office of the country’s Catholic bishops, asking the pope to speak out against the violence, and the government’s steps toward authoritarianism. A police officer died of his injures Thursday after being shot during a Wednesday protest that had hundreds of thousands of people on the street nationwide. A 17 year-old was also killed during the day’s protests. The death of the 38 year-old officer in the central state of Carabobo means three dozen people have […]

Russia resumes oil shipments to Cuba, helps fill Venezuelan breach

4 May 2017   Cuba, Russia

Russia has begun shipping large quantities of oil to Cuba for the first time this century, sources said, as supplies to the island from crisis-wracked Venezuela have dwindled. A Russian oil tanker with 249,000 barrels of refined products is due to arrive in Cuba on May 10, according to Reuters shipping sources and others, bringing back memories of when the Soviet Union supplied all of the Communist-run Caribbean island’s energy needs. More tankers apparently will follow. Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, announced on Wednesday it had signed an agreement with Cuba’s state-run Cubametals to supply 250,000 tonnes of oil and diesel fuel, without providing further details. The news is sure to raise eyebrows in Washington as its tense relations with Moscow continue, […]

PetroVietnam says Venezuela oil project still stalled, hopes to reactivate

4 May 2017   Venezuela, Vietnam

PetroVietnam’s joint venture with Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA remains stalled but the Vietnamese company hopes ongoing talks will lead to reactivation of operations, a top executive for the company told Reuters on Wednesday. Vietnam’s state-run oil company and PDVSA operate the PetroMacareo extra-heavy crude project in Venezuela’s vast Orinoco Belt. After PetroVietnam halted oil production in 2014 due to tough economic conditions, the firm considered selling its 40-percent stake, but did not. Now, PetroVietnam is trying to get operations going again. “At the moment, we have stopped… We might restart later,” said Ngo Huu Hai, CEO of PetroVietnam Exploration and Production on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston. Both companies are in talks on new conditions for the joint venture, he added, without elaborating. He did not give a timeframe for the […]

GM Takes $100 Million Charge on Venezuela Operations

3 May 2017   Venezuela

General Motors Co. is taking a $100 million charge to write off its operations in troubled Venezuela, where authorities last month unexpectedly seized its production plant on a court order, the company said Tuesday. The write-off is effective as of May 1, GM said. The company has ceased all operations since the April 18 takeover…

Panama Canal to see daily LNG carrier transits within 4 years, says CEO

3 May 2017   Panama

The number of LNG carrier transiting the Panama Canal could average one a day by 2021 as more US supply comes on stream and targets demand in North Asia, according to Panama Canal Authority CEO Jorge L. Quijano. “During the past nine months of operation of the Panama Canal we have seen LNG flows that we never expected a few years back,” Quijano said on the sidelines of the Sea Asia Conference, held in conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Week 2017 last week. The initial projection was for one LNG ship a week but this had already reached three to four ships, he said. Much of the future traffic will be driven by emerging LNG exports from the US, of which some will pass through the canal, he said. Cheniere has three fully operational LNG trains at Sabine Pass on the US Gulf Coast, with a fourth train undergoing […]

Venezuela opposition blocks streets to protest Maduro’s power shakeup

3 May 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during his weekly broadcast ”Los Domingos con Maduro” (The Sundays with Maduro) in Caracas, Venezuela. Miraflores Palace/via Venezuela’s opposition was blocking streets on Tuesday to decry unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s decision to create a new super-body known as a “constituent assembly,” a move they say is a veiled attempt to cling to power by avoiding elections. After a month of near-daily protests demanding early general elections, Maduro on Monday announced a new popular assembly with the ability to rewrite the constitution. His government says that the opposition is promoting street violence and refusing dialogue, so it has no choice but to shake up Venezuela’s power structure to bring peace to the oil producer. Maduro’s foes counter that Maduro, a former bus driver they say has turned into a dictator, is in fact planning to staff the new assembly with supporters and avoid elections […]

Venezuela security forces battle protesters amid May Day rallies

2 May 2017   Venezuela

Security forces fired tear gas at youths throwing stones and petrol bombs on Monday as Venezuela’s opposition began a second month of protests against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. With hundreds of thousands on the streets of Caracas for rival May Day marches, red-shirted supporters of Maduro also gathered downtown vowing to defend the socialists’ 18-year rule of the South American oil producer. Twenty nine people have been killed, over 400 injured, and hundreds more arrested in unrest since early April against Maduro, the unpopular 54-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez. “For no reason, they are starting to repress us,” lawmaker Jose Olivares said, as National Guard troops shot teargas in one district of west Caracas in the morning towards hundreds of people standing around waiting to march. Most […]

U.S. Supreme Court sides with Venezuela over oil rigs claim

2 May 2017   Venezuela

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against an American oil drilling company that claimed Venezuela unlawfully seized 11 drilling rigs in 2010. Siding with Venezuela, the justices ruled 8-0, with Justice Neil Gorsuch not participating, to throw out a 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that allowed one of the claims made by Oklahoma-based Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company ( HP.N ) to move forward. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

French major Total impresses with Venezuelan (?) shale

29 Apr 2017   Venezuela

At a time when volatility is an emerging trend in the energy sector, French supermajor Total remains an attractive player, an investment profile read. A floor price for crude oil at around $50 per barrel meant the market is primed enough to sanction the first major project in three years, the French company said this week. The company, the first of the big oil companies out with earnings, said net profit for the first quarter roughly doubled year-over-year to $2.6 billion, meaning it could now move forward with the development of the Vaca Muerta shale deposit in Venezuela. The Royal Bank of Canada said Total’s move was against the tide. This week, the International Energy Agency warned that, outside of the United States, the […]

Venezuela to Begin Process to Withdraw From Organization of American States

27 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela said it would begin a two-year process to pull out of the world’s oldest regional diplomatic body, in a move that is likely to heighten tensions with its neighbors over President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian rule. Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said Wednesday that Mr. Maduro ordered the withdrawal from the Organization of American States after 19 of the group’s 34 members agreed on a resolution to…

Venezuela Says It Will Leave Pro-Democracy Organization

27 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela said Wednesday that it would pull out of the Organization of American States , which has long been critical of President Nicolás Maduro’s unyielding accumulation of power at the expense of the country’s democratic institutions. The move increases Venezuela ’s isolation while its government is struggling to put down mass street protests demanding new elections. And it shows that the country — which, through anticapitalist rhetoric and oil largess, once aimed to challenge the United States as a power in Latin America — is becoming something of a pariah in its own region.

GM Factory Seizure Threatens Oil Sector In Venezuela

27 Apr 2017   Venezuela

The Venezuelan government’s seizure of a GM factory, as reported by Reuters, signals that the deeply corrupt regime of President Nicolas Maduro is escalating its self-defeating actions. Ironically, for oil prices, this could prove bullish, as the operating environment is increasingly hostile and the few foreign firms still operating oil assets may flee the country. Of course, with oil providing between 40 percent and 70 percent of government revenues (depending on the oil price), a seizure of foreign oil assets by Maduro’s regime would display a level of short-sightedness unrivaled by other oppressive government officials. But the GM seizure suggests that it is indeed a possibility, and Maduro’s regime is anything but rational. In essence, the GM factory seizure represents a tipping point, putting Venezuela far closer to seeing its oil production shrink, rather than expanding it. Foreign firms, many of which have already packed their bags and left, […]

As Venezuela Declines, So Does Its Latin American Influence

27 Apr 2017   Venezuela

A document circulating in Peru, part of a broad political corruption investigation, stands as a quaint piece of Hugo Chávez memorabilia. It’s a 2006 letter allegedly penned by the late socialist Venezuelan president to one of his regional comrades, Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala. It suggests Chávez gave Humala’s campaign $2 million in what the letter calls “revolutionary aid.” Humala, who became Peru’s president in 2011 and left office last year, denies taking cash from Chávez. But the letter recalls something larger: a time when Venezuela wielded clout. A decade ago, as crude prices soared above $100 a barrel, the South American nation with the world’s largest oil reserves was a petro sugar daddy. The firebrand Chávez cast his largesse from the Bahamas to Buenos Aires, buying influence for his left-wing, anti-U.S. revolution. Venezuela used to be sugar daddy to the region’s leftists. Now it can’t feed itself. Chávez […]

Some oil companies in Venezuela pull expats amid protests: sources

26 Apr 2017   Venezuela

As political turmoil in Venezuela persists, oil firms including Norwegian major Statoil ASA ( STL.OL ) and Spain’s Repsol SA ( REP.MC ) have further reduced their already-dwindling ranks of expatriate employees in the country, sources familiar with the situation said. Statoil, Repsol and Chevron Corp ( CVX.N ) are among the foreign oil companies that hold minority stakes in more than 40 joint ventures with state-run Petroleos de Venezuela [PDVSA.UL] (PDVSA), providing cash-strapped Venezuela with crucial crude production and income amid a debilitating economic crisis. Venezuela, South America’s largest oil exporter, has been pummeled by a brutal economic crisis that has millions skipping meals, unable to afford soaring prices for basic goods and facing long lines for scarce products. More than a dozen people have been killed during near […]

Death toll in Venezuela’s unrest rises to 26

26 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Two Venezuelan men died on Tuesday from gunshots at political demonstrations, bringing to 26 the number of fatalities around this month’s protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government. The state prosecutor’s office said Orlando Medina, 23, was gunned down on a street in western Lara state during a protest local media identified as anti-Maduro. Luis Marquez, 52, died in the Andean state of Merida in the early morning after being shot on Monday at a pro-Maduro rally, state ombudsman Tarek Saab said. In more than three weeks of chaos since Venezuela’s opposition launched street protests, 15 people have died in violence around demonstrations and 11 others in night-time lootings, the state prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday. Political activists and Venezuelan media have reported more deaths, but those have not been confirmed. […]

Argentina’s Push to Mimic Permian Success Faces Long Road Ahead

26 Apr 2017   Argentina

Vaca Muerta geology a match, support services fall short Energy assets could be key to country’s economic future Argentina’s Vaca Muerta, one of the largest shale formations outside of North America, offers tons of promise for the country’s energy future. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for it. Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren , billionaire investor Paolo Rocca and bullish Morgan Stanley economists all predict lightning fast growth in the region, comparing it to the Eagle Ford and Permian basins in the U.S., oil and natural gas-saturated plays that have spurred billions in revenue. Photographer: Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images The reason: Vaca Muerta offers Argentina, which has struggled for years with rampant inflation, an economic lifeline for the future. Still, before the field reaches its potential, gas and oil pipelines need to be built, roads, train lines and power networks need upgrading, and drilling costs that run 30 […]

Venezuela’s Complicated Crisis For Oil

26 Apr 2017   Venezuela

The cold logic of the oil market dictates that crisis usually equals profit. That’s because a crisis in oil usually means a supply crisis, as some large producing country becomes embroiled in war or civil unrest or sanctions or some other geopolitical mess. The country currently occupying the unenviable position of being the likeliest source of a supply shock is Venezuela. The collapse in oil prices has savaged the country’s economy and brought political tensions to a head in the form of a constitutional crisis, mass protests and, particularly over the past week or so, looting and fatalities. From the oil market’s perspective, the question is whether Venezuela’s intensifying problems will cause an outright collapse in its production, currently running at about 2 million barrels a day. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though. Venezuela’s supply has slumped already: But so has domestic demand: Put the two together, […]

Venezuelan opposition seeks new strategy as unrest enters fourth week

25 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Barricading roads with trash and even bathtubs, small groups of protesters held “sit-ins” around Venezuela on Monday in an effort to maintain momentum as anti-government unrest entered a fourth week. Ten people have been killed during near daily clashes this month between security forces armed with rubber bullets and tear gas, and protesters who have sometimes thrown rocks and petrol bombs. At least 10 people have also died during night-time looting. President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government accuses protesters of seeking a violent coup with U.S. connivance, while the opposition says he has become a dictator repressing peaceful demonstrations. The protesters’ main demand is for elections, although the anger is also underpinned by crippling economic crisis in the oil-producing country. “I have an empty stomach because I […]

Venezuela’s President Maduro calls for talks with opposition

24 Apr 2017   Venezuela

The latest protests were on Saturday and another march is planned for Monday Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called for talks to resume with the opposition. He also said he wanted local elections to take place. His comments came as another large demonstration is planned for Monday after three weeks of tense protests across the country. Demonstrators have been calling for presidential elections due next year to be brought forward and for President Maduro to step down. Last year’s negotiations between the opposition and the government broke down when the opposition accused Mr Maduro of breaking agreements and using the talks to buy time. Speaking during his Sunday TV programme, Mr Maduro endorsed the idea of elections for mayors and state governors but did not mention a vote at presidential level. “Elections – yes, I want elections now,” he said “That is what I say as the head of […]

At Least 12 Die as Rioting Breaks Out in Venezuela

22 Apr 2017   Venezuela

At least a dozen people were killed as the streets of Caracas, Venezuela, erupted into a night of riots, looting and clashes between government opponents and the National Guard late Thursday and early Friday, with anger from two days of pro-democracy demonstrations spilling into unrest in working-class and poor neighborhoods. The attorney general’s office in Venezuela said 11 people had died of electrocution and gunshot wounds “in acts of violence” in El Valle, a neighborhood of mixed loyalties, where armored vehicles struggled to contain crowds of looters. In Petare, a working-class section in eastern Caracas, a protester was shot dead at the entrance to the city’s largest barrio, said Carlos Ocariz, the district mayor. Throughout the night, the sounds of banging pots and pans reverberated through the capital, a traditional form of protest known as the “cacerolazo,” which has taken on greater significance as the country struggles with shortages […]

Maduro targets companies as Venezuela unrest grows

22 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro has ordered an investigation into Telefónica’s Movistar for alleged “coup-mongering” after a week of protests against his increasingly repressive rule. Mr Maduro accused the subsidiary of Spain’s Telefónica of supporting opposition rallies which have led to pitched battles in which nine people have been killed and scores detained. “I denounce the company Movistar of Venezuela. I have ordered an investigation because it joined the coup-mongering call against the country, and that is not its function,” he said, adding “every two hours the company Movistar sent millions of messages to its phone and internet customers” as part of a “cyber war”. Telefónica was unavailable for comment, but it is not the only company caught up in the strife in Venezuela. On Wednesday, General Motors said it ceased operations after one of its plants was seized by local authorities. The US-based company said the move will cause “irreparable damage to the company and its 2,678 workers”. Tensions continue to grow as Mr Maduro’s foes demand early elections to speed up his removal from office amid worsening shortages of basic goods, violent unrest and political repression. Opponents are vowing no let-up in the pressure as the socialist leader clings to power. “When one lives in a lawless country, one has to take to the street to protest for our dignity and rights,” said Julio Borges, a leading opposition lawmaker. Local media reported unrest in poor areas of the capital on Thursday night. Critics had called for protests across the country on Friday, a silent march in Caracas on Saturday of people dressed in white to commemorate those killed in the unrest, and a nationwide sit-in to block some of Venezuela’s main roads on Monday.

Exxon Is Going Primetime With The World’s Next Shale Hotspot

22 Apr 2017   Argentina, Shale Oil

The U.S. shale sector continues to be the hottest spot in natural resources investment. But news this week suggests America’s oil and gas industry may have a new rival — as shale in a completely different part of the world gets ready to go commercial. In Argentina. The governor of Argentina’s Neuquen province Omar Gutierrez said in a statement Monday that shale production is about to begin in earnest in his territory. With ExxonMobil reportedly about to push the button on a major project in the Vaca Muerta shale here over the coming weeks. Governor Gutierrez noted that he was in Houston last week meeting with Exxon management. Who reportedly told him the company will enter the “production phase” on the company’s Vaca Muerta projects this May. Gutierrez didn’t give additional detail on the specific projects that will be put into full-scale production. And Exxon itself hasn’t made any […]

GM Ceases Operation in Venezuela as Plant Is Seized

21 Apr 2017   Venezuela

General Motors Co. became the latest multinational company to exit what used to be South America’s most lucrative consumer market, following the seizure of its plant linked to a court case. Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday unexpectedly took over GM’s plant in the central Carabobo state, seizing production facilities and car stock, the company said in a statement. GM, the world’s third-largest car maker, said it…

Venezuela state oil company gave cash to Trump inauguration

21 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Venezuela has donated $500,000 to US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, newly released records show. Citgo Petroleum, a US-based subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, is named in papers filed with the Federal Election Commission. The revelation comes as the Venezuelan economy appears to be crippled by food shortages, violent crime and inflation. Three people were killed in protests on Wednesday as tens of thousands took to the streets to demand new elections Other major corporations named in the documents include Pepsi and Walmart, which gave $250,000 and $150,000 respectively, while owners of NFL teams or their companies gave more than $5m. Casino owner and billionaire Sheldon Adelson also gave $5m. Business as usual – Analysis by Luis Fajardo, BBC Mundo Venezuela is in the middle of a major economic crisis, which has the oil-rich country flirting with hyperinflation. This Wednesday, street protests demanding the resignation of President Nicolas […]

Many Poor Venezuelans Are Too Hungry to Join Antigovernment Protests

21 Apr 2017   Venezuela

President Nicolás Maduro has lost support among the legions of poor Venezuelans that once backed the late Hugo Chávez, but they have largely shown little interest in joining the opposition-led protests that have convulsed the country the past three weeks. Many of the impoverished residents of the vast slums that ring Caracas and other major cities are angry about a collapsing economy and food shortages. But Venezuela’s political unrest remains mostly confined to middle-class enclaves, underscoring the…

Exxon Mulls Big Investment In Argentina As Part Of Shale Strategy

21 Apr 2017   Argentina

ExxonMobil is betting on shale development not only on its home turf. The supermajor is also planning to speed up investment plans for shale gas drilling in Argentina’s prized Vaca Muerta formation in the Neuquen province. Exxon will start drilling Vaca Muerta in May, by drilling horizontal wells with laterals of 2,500-3,000 meters (8,202-9,843 feet), Neuquen province governor Omar Gutiérrez said on Monday. The U.S. major’s total investments in developing Vaca Muerta will have reached $750 million by the end of this year, said Gutiérrez, who discussed Exxon’s plans with executives of Exxon and its subsidiary XTO in Houston last week. ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina (EMEA) has been present in Vaca Muerta since 2010 . Last year, following the successful initial exploration results in the Bajo del Choique-La Invernada block, EMEA launched a pilot project to continue to assess the productivity and recovery of horizontal wells in Vaca Muerta. The […]

At Least 3 Die in Venezuela in Violent Protests Across the Country

20 Apr 2017   Venezuela

Protesters demanding elections and a return to democratic rule jammed the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities on Wednesday. National Guard troops and government-aligned militias beat crowds back with tear gas, rubber bullets and other weapons, and at least three people were killed, according to human rights groups and news reports. President Nicolás Maduro defied international calls, including a plea from the American State Department, to allow peaceful assemblies and ordered his forces into the streets. Some demonstrators, wearing masks to protect themselves from tear gas, fought back with firebombs. Still, despite the deaths in recent protests, now numbering seven, Wednesday’s rallies attracted thousands of people, the latest in a string of demonstrations against the increasingly autocratic rule of Mr. Maduro. Labeled by organizers “the mother of all protests,” it showed that a sustained movement in the streets against Mr. Maduro may now be forming. […]

Banned at sea: Venezuela’s crude-stained oil tankers

18 Apr 2017   Venezuela

In the scorching heat of the Caribbean Sea, workers in scuba suits scrub crude oil by hand from the hull of the Caspian Galaxy, a tanker so filthy it can’t set sail in international waters. The vessel is among many that are constantly contaminated at two major export terminals where they load crude from Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA. The water here has an oily sheen from leaks in the rusty pipelines under the surface. That means the tankers have to be cleaned before traveling to many foreign ports, which won’t admit crude-stained ships for fear of environmental damage to their harbors, port facilities or other vessels. The laborious hand-cleaning operation is one of many causes of chronic delays for dozens of tankers that deliver Venezuela’s […]