Survival mode: Maduro gives up decades of control over oil

Must Read

We did not discuss Exxon; Guyana President says of meetings with Secretary Pompeo

During his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, said that...

Yellowtail could add another 220,000 bpd to Guyana output, 7 floaters on the cards – Hess

Though the Hammerhead area was targeted for the fourth development project in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana,...

Pompeo discusses leveraging Guyana’s wealth of natural resources with President Ali

Shortly after arriving in Guyana on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with President Irfaan Ali, during...
OilNOW
OilNow is an online-based Information and Resource Centre which serves to complement the work of all stakeholders in the oil and gas sector in Guyana.

After decades of dominating its oil industry, the Venezuelan government is quietly surrendering control to foreign companies in a desperate bid to keep the economy afloat and hold on to power, reports the New York Times.

The opening is a startling reversal for Venezuela, breaking decades of state command over its crude reserves, the world’s biggest.

The government’s power and legitimacy has always rested on its ability to control its oil fields — the backbone of the country’s economy — and use their profits for the benefit of its people.

But the nation’s authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro, in his struggle to retain his grip over a country in its seventh year of a crippling economic crisis, is giving up policies that once were central to its socialist-inspired revolution.

Under Venezuelan law, the state-run oil company must be the principal stakeholder in all major oil projects. But as that company, Petróleos de Venezuela, or Pdvsa, unravels — under the weight of American sanctions, years of gross mismanagement and corruption — the work is unofficially being picked up by its foreign partners.

Private companies are pumping crude, arranging exports, paying workers, buying equipment and even hiring security squads to protect their operations in a collapsing countryside, according to managers and oil consultants working on the country’s energy projects.

In effect, a stealth privatization is taking place, said Rafael Ramírez, who ran Venezuela’s oil industry for more than a decade before breaking with Mr. Maduro in 2017, in a video address this week.

“Today, Pdvsa doesn’t manage our oil industry, Venezuelans don’t manage it,” said Mr. Ramírez. “In the middle of the chaos generated by the worst economic crisis suffered by the country in its history, Maduro is taking actions to cede, transfer and hand over oil operations to private capital.”

Pdvsa did not respond to requests for comment on its recent concessions to private partners, the New York Times said in its report.

The haphazard changes to the oil sector, which have accelerated in recent months, are remaking the oil industry in a nation whose assertive energy policies had, since the 1950s, served as an example to developing countries of how to take control of natural resources.

And they are a stark retreat from the vision of Hugo Chávez, who was Mr. Maduro’s mentor and predecessor. Mr. Chávez nationalized in 2007 the giant holdings of Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips and packed Pdvsa’s leadership ranks with political allies dedicated to his socialist-inspired “Bolivarian revolution.”

But Mr. Maduro’s transformation of Venezuela’s oil industry has stemmed the collapse triggered by an American embargo. Sanctions imposed in January 2019 had wiped out about a third of Venezuela’s oil production, bringing it down at one point to the lowest level since the 1940s, according to data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Oil production now is still less than a third of the total in 1998, when Mr. Chávez took power. By late 2019, Venezuela had stabilized exports at about a million barrels per day, according to Bloomberg’s tanker tracking data.

The dribble of oil exports has provided Mr. Maduro with foreign revenue at the most critical moment of the country’s economic crisis, allowing him to adjust to sanctions and consolidate his rule.

- Advertisement -

Latest News

We did not discuss Exxon; Guyana President says of meetings with Secretary Pompeo

During his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, said that...

2020 expected to be a ‘one and done’ recession as oil demand bounces back – API

The enormous challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic this year have caused major disruptions to the global oil and gas industry resulting...

Yellowtail could add another 220,000 bpd to Guyana output, 7 floaters on the cards – Hess

Though the Hammerhead area was targeted for the fourth development project in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana, the high quality oil discovered...

Pompeo discusses leveraging Guyana’s wealth of natural resources with President Ali

Shortly after arriving in Guyana on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with President Irfaan Ali, during which the two leaders discussed...

Department of Energy remains operational, actively involved in Payara negotiations – Vickram Bharrat

Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, told Members of Parliament on Tuesday that the Department of Energy (DE) remains operational and...

More Articles Like This