Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pacific Rubiales ( has a community problem? Or what?

Colombian press says there is all sorts of weirdness at’s flagship Rubiales field, and the company may have to shut the field for the second time in just over a month over protests. Dinero reports (my excessively literal translation):

Pacific Rubiales threatens to shut operations in Rubiales field

Pacific Rubiales said Tuesday that at least 30 people entered the field and have burned tanker trucks and the encampments and that they suspect that it has to do with groups at the margin of the law, who are risking the integrity of the workers.

The vice president of corporate affairs, Federico Restrepo, indicated that the decision to halt production in the field and investments will be “taken at any moment.” [Note: they use the future tense, saying it will be taken, but the rest of the article seems to say that the decision may be taken — grains of salt always useful when dealing with these sorts of stories.]

Restrepo assured that Colombian law permits the closure because a red alert of hostile issues has been declared.(continues in Spanish, and yes, you should know how to read Spanish if you are investing in Colombia)

I haven’t had time to try and reach or the workers’ union on this one…feel free to chime in if you know anything about the situation beyond what this article says, as the description here seems exceedingly sketchy.

PDVSA Pension Ponzi: Yankee empire grabs the nukes

A few months ago, I wrote this intentionally inflammatory headline:

PDVSA pension’s $500 million bolivar bet may turn into nuke ties

The headline was about nukes to get you to read about Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA investing its pension money in a hedge fund that existed to trade bolivars for dollars, during a time when that practice was illegal in Venezuela.

There was also what I called a “Fox News-ready post-script,” which somehow never made it to Fox News. Corrupt hedge fund manager Pancho Illarramendi had bought a bunch of shares of NuScale Power, an Oregon company developing a new form of nuclear plants. Because Illarramendi spent PDVSA money on the shares, the US government had the obligation to try and get them back into PDVSA hands.

Not so quick. Continue reading

Exxon may return to Venezuela? Or is this a telephone game?

Telephone game time: I cite Reuters cites Kommersant citing unnamed sources saying that Rosneft is going to pay a $1 billion signing fee, or “bonus,” for its right to develop an immense oilfield in Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt. Lower down in the story it says that Exxon Mobil may partner on the project. Yes, Exxon “Nunca más volvera” Mobil. In Venezuela.

Curious stuff:

MOSCOW Oct 8 (Reuters) – Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft will pay $1 billion for access to Venezuela’s Carabobo 2 block and may tie-up with a partner to develop the project, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Saturday…

Rosneft will pay an initial $600 million for the right to develop the oil field, with a $400 million payment to follow after the final investment decision is taken, Kommersant quoted sources close to the deal as saying.

The paper also said that PDVSA will have 60 percent of the venture, while Rosneft, with a 40 percent stake, may seek a partner to help it develop the project.

“It may well be our strategic partner — ExxonMobil. This step is seen logical,” the newspaper quoted a Rosneft source as saying…

A source close to Exxon told the newspaper there were no discussions with Rosneft on the possible tie-up in Venezuela…

I am terribly curious what this means — will this $1 billion come out of Venezuela’s debt to Exxon? Is this just some unnamed person talking randomly on a Saturday? Is it a misquote as a result of the excessive citation of citation of citation? We’ll see.

Chile vs. Brazil: Who kills progressive fuel taxes?

Fuel prices are rising in South America as local currencies weaken on the euro crisis. National governments have a choice: maintain fuel taxes, which are overwhelmingly progressive in countries where very few poor and most rich people have vehicles, or cut the fuel tax and make up the finance gap with some other sort of tax, which will quite likely be less progressive.

The same proposal has been made in the past week in Chile and Brazil. Of course everyone knows how this is going to play out. Chilean President Piñera, often referred to as a “fascist” by local lefties, is going to reward the rich, while Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, a former leftist guerrilla, will of course soak the rich.

Only not. Continue reading

More Venezuela arbitrations and suits

These have all been mentioned in news articles recently, but since I’m a big geek, I thought I’d give you the direct links to the arbitration pages for

Tenaris vs. Venezuela
Owens Illinois vs. Venezuela

(Those direct links are a royal pain to find. You owe me one.)

And all yours for no extra charge, the complaint filed by Helmerich & Payne against PDVSA in US court. Lots of references in there to YouTube videos of Hugo Chavez rants.

And hey, look at this: Helmerich references another case, one I had never heard of, in which Northrop Grumman sued the Venezuelan defense ministry. The case was filed nine years ago, in October, 2002. After some of the more ridiculous backs-and-forths I’ve ever heard of, the two sides are about to go into arbitration — in the USA — over whatever the commercial dispute may be. Apparently something about cost overruns on ships. Now you know.

Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana get offshore oil excitement

In high school, my US History teacher said any time you don’t know the answer to a history question, just write “money.” You’ll probably be correct.

With that in mind, check out this odd little story from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Venezuela Says Guyana Expansion of Legal Sea Limits “Irregular”

…Guyana was expanding its continental shelf 150 nautical miles under the new rules of the Law of the Sea from the former standard of a 200 nautical mile outer limit of existing exclusive economic zones.

Guyana’s request to extend its continental shelf by 150 miles was not the only one submitted to the UN Commission that can affect Venezuela’s maritime domain in the eastern part of the country. Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados have also made submissions…

Because the story was written in Venezuela, it quite bizarrely focuses entirely on a supposed threat to Venezuelan sovereignty. But the real issue here is money — in particular, oil money. Continue reading