Venezuela nationalization screwed up drilling: Wikileak

This Wikileaked U.S. government cable adds some details to what we already knew about how Venezuela’s nationalization of maritime companies in Lake Maracaibo had caused delays to oil and gas drilling.


Repsol Drill Project Manager for the Rafael Urdaneta offshore natural gas exploratory well told Petroleum Attache…that PDVSA recently seized vessels in the Gulf of Venezuela owned by Venezuelan launch company Terminales Maracaibo that had been servicing the off-shore rig. The service company has the contract to provide Chevron, Repsol, and Teikoku with launch services in the Gulf to transport crew and supplies to the rig. Terminales Maracaibo continued to operate vessels not expropriated in May 2009 until PDVSA recently expanded the scope of the expropriation beyond assets physically located on Lake Maracaibo. XXXXXXXXXXXXX indicated that Repsol has not been able to find a replacement launch company (as there are few private launch companies left in Venezuela) and is increasingly reliant on PDVSA to provide launch services to maintain its drilling program.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX also noted that during the first week of drilling, the rig was shut down for 36 hours due to a shortage of diesel fuel. The rig temporarily shut down again the weekend of August 1 due to another fuel shortage. Problems within PDVSA’s domestic fuel distribution system are driving this problem… XXXXXXXXXXXXX shared that Repsol had been unable to lease some specialized drill tools from Schlumberger as it had exported them out of Venezuela and was not willing to bring them back.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote for Energy Intelligence’s Oil Daily in October:

Work crews on the lake have more down time, maintenance crews lack proper equipment, and vessels of all sorts are increasingly out of service since PDV took over more than 70 service and supply companies, the executives said…Workers now spend about a fifth of their time idle, waiting for PDV-operated support vessels such as boats that transport crews and supplies and tugs, officials at two companies said. That reduces the productivity of each piece of equipment on the lake. Transporting equipment — a motor, a crane or a whole oil rig — now takes several days longer than it did two years ago, officials said.