Monthly Archives: January 2011

Off to the woods

Dear readers, thank you so much for all the support and interest in recent weeks. Readership here has been soaring and it’s been fascinating to receive letters from so many smart and successful people — even if you’re writing to tell me I’m full of bull.

All the attention makes me feel a bit guilty for taking a vacation right now, but so it goes. It’s summer here, and we make hay — or hike in the woods — when the sun shines. See you in a week.

Did Statoil ( get catty against Venezuela?

Oh man this is some juicy Wikileakage. Regular commenter and blogpal Kepler has the story:

the Norwegians were not very happy at the way US Chevron and Spanish Repsol decided to bid for the development of the Carabobo field….the Norwegians were hoping for an international boycot of the tender…

Kepler’s post is worth reading for those of us less versed in the Viking tongue. For those of you with patience or rare skill in Norwegian, here’s the original story in Aftenposten.

Just to give a bit of background on this story: Continue reading

Highbury arbitration update


Highbury stadium, stolen from Football Pictures (click for original)

An odd fact: Since I posted this little note about Highbury International AVV’s arbitration case against Venezuela, “highbury” has turned into a substantial traffic driver to this site.

So if you’re coming here for that, let me do a bit of the legwork for you: as Miguel pointed out in comments, Highbury’s Aruba registration shows the name of U.S.-born Manuel Fernandez. Reader NC point out to me this Panamanian registration of Ramstein Trading, the other complainant company.

The company secretary of Ramstein is Red Glove Corp. AVV, a company also found in this history of the Las Cristinas mine. According to this statement from 1999, Red Glove had warrants to buy shares of a company I don’t like to write about for $2 apiece warrants that may have been exercised at some point while that company’s stock was way above $2. If this is indeed a case based on the inability of that company to build a mine at the site, it would make three, countem three, ICSID cases over the same* damned property. Gold Reserve and Vannessa Ventures are also scrambling for the same* claim. Makes me wonder if the Bolivarian Republic is aiming for a new legal principle — if they give rights to the same land to enough companies, at some point they may be able to claim that the companies should have known better than to believe in their rights. That place exists to keep lawyers in business.

*I know, I know — Las Cristinas and Brisas are legally separate concessions with somewhat different ore properties. But it’s they are adjoining properties. Same damned exit from the highway, same damned runway, same damned families washing gold dust out of the overlying soils. And I used “damned” in the old-fashioned sense.

Oh well, the Amazon was dying anyway

The Brazilian Amazon faces a couple new energy-related threats: In the last few days Bloomberg carried this very self-promoting story about possible oil discoveries in the Amazon:

“The Amazon is one of the last frontiers in the whole world where you can find giant and super giant oil and gas fields,” Mello said. “It has a third of all the gas in Brazil.”

Note that the touting needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as Mello has a company that’s seeking oil in the Amazon.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian government gave a first construction permit to the Belo Monte dam, an 11,000-megawatt project that will displace Venezuela’s Guri dam as the third-biggest in the world. Continue reading

Dow Jones to Alange (ALE.v): Thank you sir may I have another?

In November, Dow Jones Newswires got spun and duped by Alange Energy CEO Luis Giusti.

“There’s a lot of investor appetite here,” Giusti said. The company will likely book a profit next year after reporting a net loss of $7.6 million in the second quarter. The company’s equity oil production in the second quarter neared 3,600 barrels per day and the company plans to close the year at 8,000 barrels of equity oil per day, Giusti said.

We now know that the 3,600 barrels a day number was wrong, and that the 8,000 barrels was a fantasy.

But rather than calling the guy up and putting him on the spot about this, Dow instead gives the story the best possible spin, running an apologia that’s much more positive than anything the company itself has put out.

Continue reading

Venezuela faces another arbitration case?

WTF is Highbury International AVV? I rather hope I am never taken to court (or a quasi-legal proceeding) by a company whose only Google hit is … the record of that proceeding.

Can someone please tell me what this is all about? And don’t say “mining concession,” cause I can read too. The suffix “AVV” apparently stands for “Aruba Vrijgestelde Vennootschap,” which means “Aruba Exempt Company.”

Anyway. Venezuela now has 13 “pending” arbitration cases at ICSID, still well behind Argentina’s 27.

Luis Giusti, Alange Energy (ALE.v) saga still not over

Alange Energy’s spectacular collapse over the past week, from being one of the great hopes among Colombian oil and gas exploration companies to being a case study in erroneous oil output reporting, surprised a lot of people whose names are not Hugo Chavez. That is, I think that (now ex-) CEO Luis Giusti’s fall has been a surprise because there was a widespread assumption that if Chavez hates the guy, he’s probably a-ok. The history is a bit different.

Continue reading

News tidbits

Some Argentine dude is still tracking maletagate, and has some Colombo-style comments on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s annual address.

The companies that produce 94% of Chile’s mine output have agreed to a new tax regime that will boost their royalties in return for a guarantee of stable tax rates in the future. This is going to net the government as much as USD$1 billion through 2012 to pay for earthquake fix-up, regional development, and some excellent catered meals at La Moneda.

Venezuela, Chile and Uruguay were the only places in South America where more than half of the workforce worked for an employer in 2009-2010. Of those, only Uruguay had unemployment of less than 10%, according to this now-slightly-dated Gallup poll.

Colombia coal train hit by bomb. Thanks for the tip, reader Otto, who also wrote about Colombia today.