Monthly Archives: September 2011

Arevenca responds, sort of

This comment deserves to be elevated to its own post, since it’s the first more-or-less response from Arevenca. The comment in Spanish is here, but since most of this site is in English, I’m posting a translation here.

My name is Samuel Rosenberg, and I live in Curaçao. I identify myself so there’s no confusing me with this crowd of trash-talkers. I don’t know English, so you may translate. MW [Setty note: I cut this name, because I don’t need to defame anyone here without evidence], you’re a poor man and a coward. Envy is killing you. You always do the same thing, you hide behind a pseudonym so as to attack the people who gave you and your family an opportunity. You’re a professional failure. You lived off the company for years, you used their hotels, vehicles, you traveled in a private plane and you paid all your expenses. You didn’t spend a cent on us for years. You took advantage of these people even though I told them that you’re useless and have never closed a decent deal in your life. You’ve lived off fuel smuggling and minor frauds. We kicked you out of the company for cheating. You stole the company name in Suriname and tried to blackmail it. You are behind all these lies, because you’re a useless, jealous coward.

This company has years in the market and hasn’t been accused in a single lawsuit of any sort. Ahhh, the Nigerians, these people try to defraud the company and Pdvsa, and to do so, have placed a frivolous lawsuit. And they sued in a location where the company has no commercial activity. The should have placed it where the company has commercial activity to be able to exercise legal actions. But because the lawsuit is false, they put it to blackmail and give a bad name to the company.

According to you (plural), the company has failed everyone. But we don’t see a single company client here. We don’t see a single buyer speaking badly of the company. Quite the contrary. But then it’s very strange that nobody has anything to complain about, neither for provision of products or for failure to make payments. How strange is this. Or is it actually that the company is serious, and this delinquent is speaking stupidities because he’s envious?

According to this fool, all the news agencies, the governments of the most powerful nation in the world, all the governments that have made treaties with the company, have made accords to make huge expenditures in a fictitious act just to appear on the Internet.

What you have to do is put yourself to work and recognize that there are people who succeed because they work night and day and don’t defraud anyone like you have done, and that you need to swallow the envy that is devouring you because no one wants you around, what you’ve done is cause problems for everyone and betrayed those who trusted you.

Keep on writing trash like you’ve always done and threatening, if that makes you feel good, because the facts are overwhelming, the company is successful, honorable people work there, and you have no way of hiding them just as you have no way to hide how small and miserable you are and that everyone knows it in Curaçao and Aruba and everywhere. Keep writing trash, because in trash, you’re an expert.

To which I say two things: first, MW, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you know who you are! Feel free to reply. Those are some serious words!

Second, Mr. Rosenberg, I seem to have missed the part of your note where you gave me the names of 1 or 2 of Arevenca’s 73 vessels, or Arevenca’s RIF number, or any other detail contradicting what I wrote previously. Could you please resend that? Thanks.

Setty recommends: The Global Barrel

I heartily recommend Tom O’Donnell’s “The Global Barrel,” a blog full of smart, very well informed thinking on the oil industry, especially as it relates to Venezuela and China. This is the kind of stuff we are very lucky to get for free on the internet. Unlike many people who spend their days opining about Venezuela, O’Donnell has actually lived there, spending a couple years there recently and then returning for a visit that just ended in August. He is a US academic, and while he has his opinions, you can see that they follow the facts, rather than preceding them. A few recent tidbits:

The lead of his very long, detailed, 3-part article on Venezuela-China oil relations:

In my travels and interviews in Venezuela this summer, it became clear that there has been a major advance in the relationship between China and the Bolivarian administration of President Chavez. China’s dogged persistence and large state-sponsored investments in Venezuela – apparently the largest they’ve made to date in any country – are finally beginning to bear fruit. The new Chinese influence is being simultaneously extended to both oil and non-oil sectors.

and lower down:

Contrary to the superficial vision from afar of long-time major access by China to Venezuelan oil, in fact, over the past eleven-to-twelve years, its much publicized largess in grants and loans most definitely had NOT resulted in the sort of major oil production contracts China was seeking. The commercial results have been nowhere near what one would expect. In my experience, and that of colleagues or contacts actively involved in the Venezuelan oil sector throughout the Chavista years, Chinese national oil company executives have quite consistently expressed consternation at their inability to close on the big deals they had expected President Chavez to bestow on their companies.

You get the idea. If you’re one of the many readers here who is very interested in Venezuelan oil and oil policy, regardless of your politics, you will do yourself a favor by reading his website. Go, go, go.

How profitable is Orinoco crude?

Today, Caracas Chronicles has a long post about why the Orinoco Belt in Venezuela remains underdeveloped, stifling that country’s economic development and risking increased fealty to China, which has become Venezuelan’s biggest lender. I don’t think that China is as big a threat as the author makes it sound, but whatever, it’s a good read to give you a clear overview of why the much-touted international partnerships in the Orinoco have failed to pan out. Check it out.

It reminded me that I never posted a link to this cable from the Wikileaks collection, which is one of the best ones in there. It gives us the clearest answer yet on production costs in the Orinoco. After all, for years, PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez has said the cost is about $4, infuriating outside experts who said that the cost had to be much higher. Here is Joe Perez, president of BP in Colombia and Venezuela, early in 2010, saying:

current Faja productions costs, from well bore to tanker, amount to $4/barrel.

That of course doesn’t include the cost of building the Orinoco’s multi-billion-dollar extraction and refining projects, which may raise the real costs to somewhere in the range of $16 to $32 a barrel, depending on who you ask, and what assumptions they use for financing cost and long-term oil price. But it’s certainly interesting to have that $4 number confirmed.

That whole cable is worth a read if you’re into geeking out on Venezuela oil. In fact, I think I’ll just copy and paste it here. Continue reading

Hey Arevenca, don’t be shy

Arevenca, the scam company I described in the last post, replaced its home page sometime in the last day with a static image, basically a screen grab of the home page with no active links. Could it be they took notice of the post? Still no word from them, though, even though I left my skype and landline info on their answering machines. Plus anyone is always free to write me at settysoutham at Arevenca folks, seriously, if you have a response, write me.

Please note: this is why we take screen grabs of scam companies’ websites BEFORE publishing articles about them. :)

UPDATE: Looks like the main home page does work ok, and it’s just the page linked above that is screwy. Anyway, still waiting for a response.

How long can Arevenca con men keep winning?

Good news! Arevenca and China signed an oil deal for $200 billion a year over 10 years. That press release also has a video report.

If you are asking, “who is Arevenca,” all I can say is, don’t you know? Haven’t you heard of this vast multinational vertically integrated oil company, with its 2.2 million barrels a day of refining capacity (more than 2% of world capacity), a fleet of 72 ships, and plans to build a 2 million barrel-a-day refinery in Côte d’Ivoire? How could you possibly have missed it?

Actually it’s pretty easy to miss, because the whole thing is a transparent scam. Arevenca is nothing but a website full of lies and one or more con men who travel the world seeking suckers and trying to sell non-existent oil to hapless marks. They are now facing a $100 million lawsuit in New York — possibly from another gang of scammers — even as they try to move on to new tricks, namely starting an airline in Aruba.

Continue reading

Hey intertubes, why you so interested in William Kallop?

Photo stolen without permission from La Republica. Click it to see original article.

One thing I don’t quite get is why almost every day, I get several hits from people who used search engines to look up William Kallop. I previously mentioned him here.

Just a question for those of you who are searching: Why all the interest in this guy? Please send e-mails or leave comments. The ongoing interest in this story is unusual.

Or are you just looking for this guy?

Now, back to our regularly scheduled silence.

The road to hell is paved: Don’t drive cars

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It’s World Car-Free Day! Stop driving. It feels great.

It’s mostly a coincidence of timing, but I came across news about these protests in Bolivia. It’s a good chance to look a bit at one of those parts of the planet from which we hear so little reporting.

Here are some English-language links:

Indigenous Bolivians march against Amazon road

Rainforest Road Will Have Environmental and Cultural Impacts
Bolivia: Marching for Land Rights, Dignity and Social Change
Evading indigenous consultation in Bolivia
Indigenous Protests Oppose Amazon Highway in Bolivia

I have a million things to say about this situation. I have no idea if this is a good or bad road. I don’t know if it will be the nightmare of death and destruction currently predicted, or whether it will turn out pretty well, like the similar road across Peru (my article about my trip down that road in March is here). If you want to read what the local activists say in their own words, click here and read. You do speak Spanish, right?

Just a few things to keep in mind as you read. The sitation is always more complex than it looks. A single household may see gains and losses from a project like this, so imagine how complex it gets when entire communities and ecosystems are doing the cost-benefit analysis. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to have such analysis. These IIRSA roads have been quite impressive in that from all I can tell, they are getting built with very little analysis to ensure that they minimize environmental and social disruption. Several people, including those who favor the road, told me that the Peru road was built without any environmental impact analysis. That shouldn’t be the case in the modern world. People shouldn’t have to resort to direct action in order to be heard.

Meanwhile, for those of you who would like to help the global environment, from the Amazon to the Arctic and from the basement rock to the upper atmosphere, please take part in World Car-Free Day. Motor vehicles are a place where personal changes make a real difference. Cars suck. Ride a bike.

PDVSA Pension Ponzi – Ramon Illarramendi explains why he wants to buy NuScale nuclear plant company

Not long ago, I was surprised to see this bit of news: Ramon Illarramendi wanted to buy some shares in nuclear plant developer NuScale Power from a U.S. receiver. The receiver has control of those shares after seizing them from Illarramendi’s son, Pancho, for buying them with misappropriated money as part of a half-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Anyway, Ramon Illarramendi’s lawyer just sent over this statement, in which he explains his reasoning and defends his reputation. The heart of the issue is:

The court should not accept a fire-­sale price for NuScale. It is an enterprise of immense value. I have asked the court to allow me and others to bid for these assets in an open and transparent process to ensure that these workers (through their pension funds), Oregon State University, and all other shareholders of NuScale, receive all the benefits of their investment.

Thanks very much for sending in the statement. I’m always happy to give people the chance to reply. My only question – why send this now, 12 days after the press started to pick up on the relevant court filings? I am guessing it may have had to do with today’s Dow Jones story on the subject. Excerpt after the jump, with a few very juicy tidbits:

Continue reading

WSJ: Chavez wants out of ICSID, again. Yawn?

Today’s Wall Street Journal says (subscription only) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has had documents drawn up to withdraw his country from the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

This comes after foreign companies have lodged dozens of complaints against Venezuela in international tribunals, including 18 active cases at ICSID.

But this “withdrawal from ICSID” meme seems unlikely to go anywhere:

Continue reading

PDVSA Pension Ponzi: One for the “Whaaaaaaaaat?” file

Kudos to Associated Press for this weird, weird scoop.

Father of disgraced Venezuelan-American proposes to buy company left teetering by son’s fraud

HARTFORD, Conn. — The father of a disgraced Venezuelan-American financier says he is assembling an offer to buy a U.S. nuclear energy company that lost millions of dollars in financial backing because of his son’s crimes.

The offer to buy NuScale Power Inc. of Corvallis, Ore., comes from Ramon Illarramendi, a former director of the Inter-American Development Bank.