Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dept. of WTF: Chavez to partly privatize PDVSA?

South American states found a clever way to rein in their state oil companies in recent years, to make them respond better to both government regulation and the market, and to bring in a bit of cash in the process. They sold off a few shares of their state oil companies to the private sector, on the public stock market. Such a listing puts the company under control of securities regulators as well as environmental and energy regulators. It may cut down a bit on regulatory capture by the huge state oil companies. And if nothing else, the publicly floated stock price gives a benchmark of how the company is doing.

The most famous cases of this sort of semi-privatization are Petrobras (PBR on the New York Stock Exchange) and Ecopetrol (EC). For years, the idea has been bounced around of doing the same to PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company. But President Hugo Chavez, with his fierce rhetoric against privatization, has been an obvious obstacle.

Or maybe not. Continue reading

Bananas? In Chile? Mooo.

Fact: The value of Chile banana exports rose 1161% last year, to $401,604.

Keep that up for a few more years and they’ll be ahead of Ecuador.

Who, me? Getting away from truly important oil news and doing lite food coverage? Well, yes. For a while at least.

Go click that link, it’s good and depressing. I feel bad for having skipped the whole Venezuela riverine oil spill, and now at least I’ve given you a linky or two. Go read.

OH just by the way. Teach me to link to The Economist. A few notes on the oil spill that they either miss or get wrong. The Jusepin oil field used to be run by Total, but PDVSA took over and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in 2006. I guess that money might have been better spent protecting the real national sovereignty rather than the ideological one, but hey, what do I know.

And the San Juan River flows into the Gulf of Paria, not the ocean. The Gulf of Paria is much more environmentally sensitive.

Caracas Gringo’s Epic takedown of Venezuela-Iran fearmongering

Caracas Gringo is a very interesting blerg. I often disagree with the author, but today, he posts something that I agree with 100%. The subject matter here: Venezuela’s supposedly dangerous links with Iran. Gringo finds the same thing I have always found: that these links exist primarily in words, not in deeds. There is a lot of utter bullshit mixed in with any tidbits of real concerns that may exist.

As is Gringo’s wont, s/he adds a lot of interesting details that readers are unlikely to have heard before. Had you heard about the supposed Iranian missile base in Paraguaná? I thought it sounded like bullshit, but Gringo goes further: he sends out a crew to look around.

… an extensive search of the peninsula, with cameras and GPS devices in case they found anything out of the ordinary. These men are former Army infantry officers with combat experience during the 1990s on the border with Colombia, who left active service in 2003. They did not find anything to substantiate…

These spurious claims all come from private sources in Washington, Gringo says. Now, remember: Gringo is close to conservative US circles, and is no Sean Penn or even Marc Weisbrot. So this tidbit is especially interesting:

Real documents mixed with false documents, all originating from the same sources in Washington, DC. From where I’m sitting in Venezuela, the real threats to this country – and the US – are not Iranian at all, but this is another topic that merits a separate post.

So I reached out to my Washington friends, men I respect and admire, with a single question: “Que vaina es esta?”

Without getting too specific for now, I learned that some Venezuelans are supplying the real and false documents to certain gringos in DC. There appears to be some degree of business or political association, and/or friendship, between some of the Venezuelans who fund La Patilla and those who are supplying documents to the gringos.

OK, it’s that inevitable moment, you knew it was coming, now go. Do it. GO READ THE WHOLE THING.

PDVSA Pension Ponzi: US sues 5 people for $29 mln

The US-appointed receiver seeking to recover cash for victims of a Connecticut Ponzi scheme sued Francisco Lopez, Carolina Lopez Pelaez, Carlos M.B. Araya, Christopher Luth and Victor Chong for $29 million, alleging that they received ill-gotten gains.

Here is the filing.

The receiver is trying to recover as much as $300 million that it says was lost by admitted crook Francisco Illarramendi. The receiver’s job is to get back money for the victims, including the pension fund of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Who are these allegations against? Continue reading

PDVSA Pension Ponzi: Javier Marin, Luis Lugo, Hispanic News Press sued

Like many people of my VTR generation, I grew up watching “Better Off Dead” way too often. Who knows, maybe court-appointed receiver John J Carney also watched it a lot. In any case, it’s clear he is eager to collect his $2.

What now? He wants to pull back $1.7 million from Javier Marin, Luis Lugo and Hispanic News Press. Who? Here, let him give you the rundown, from the complaint: Continue reading

PDVSA Pension Ponzi: Illarramendi, family members sued for $300 million

$300 million — yes, it’s astronomical numbers day at Setty’s Notebook. As is my custom, here’s your filing. You want more? Get yourself a Pacer account, or hire me.

This time, the defendants are “Francisco Illarramendi, Maria Josephina Gonzalez-Miranda, Adela M. Illarramendi.” A bit more of the receiver’s rather depressing prose: Continue reading