Monthly Archives: November 2012

Explaining those Venezuelan petrol imports from USA

(reposted cause first version got buried by my technical incompetence)

There has been a lot of hubbub over Venezuela’s growing petroleum imports from the USA.

Clearly, Venezuela’s refining system is breaking down. And the country’s policy of giving away fuel domestically and selling it to allies with basically free financing means that when Venezuela imports fuel, that is money coming right out of social programs and largely going to US refining companies, US taxes, and the US military-industrial complex. I don’t think this was the Bolivarian socialist revolution that anyone signed up for.

The long-term chart of US oil & refined product exports to Venezuela — which I have edited for clarity — tells a clear story. Here it is, courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration and too much time playing with Excel:

Venezuela fuel imports from USA in barrels a day

Venezuela fuel imports from USA in barrels a day (smoothed into 6-month rolling averages), click to enlarge

Continue reading

Speaking of Venezuelan commodity hemorrhages

This post about the shortage of small change in Venezuela reminded me to update these charts, which I’ve never posted here.

Venezuela currency in circulation by value

Venezuela currency in circulation by value

That’s Venezuelan cash in “circulation.” I put the sarcastiquotes on there for the following reason:

Venezuela cash by number of coins or bills

Venezuela cash by number of coins or bills

Those coins, all that stuff at the bottom of the chart? Where oh where could they be? Note the huge number of 5-cent coins; also note that they are the color of copper. I think we can guess the rest of that story.

US fuel exports to Venezuela go through the roof

US total fossil fuel exports to Venezuela

Venezuela fuel imports from USA in barrels a day, click to enlarge

The United States of America sold the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela 5,882,000 barrels of refined products in the month of September, dwarfing the worst period of the 2002-03 oil sabotage. Here’s the breakdown by product:

US exports to Venezuela by product Sept 2012

US exports to Venezuela by product Sept 2012, click for full size

There’s no way to know what Venezuela spent on that, since some of it probably came from Citgo on favorable terms. But at market price, that’s somewhat more than a half-billion dollars worth of products.

The good news is that there are no social programs or other needs in Venezuela that could have benefited more from that money.

Colombia oil, gas output update

Yup, Colombia’s hydrocarbons agency finally released its detailed oil & gas output numbers, and here are the charts.

Colombia oil output, gas sales through September 2012

Colombia oil output, gas sales through September 2012 (click to enlarge)

(note, image swapped out. originally said thousands of cubic feet/day)

Oil output staying pretty stagnant, but as you can see below, it is registering a year-over-year increase.

Colombia oil and gas year-on-year change to Sept 2012

Colombia oil and gas year-on-year change to Sept 2012, click to enlarge.

Conoco and PDV work something out, sweetness and love and rainbow unicorns

No, not the big $30 billion arbitration case.

If you follow these things obsessively — which I, happily, no longer do — you’ll know that ConocoPhillips took Petroleos de Venezuela to arbitration for having prejudicially cut output at Conoco’s projects in Venezuela in order to comply with OPEC cuts. The whole case was more or less secret until September, when Conoco said it had won $66.8 million.

Conoco filed a suit to enforce the arbitral award in US federal court in New York, and entered the award into the court record, which in turn is available to any old schmuck. Here it is, yours at no extra charge. Sorry no OCR this time, for some reason it’s acting up and producing 50-MB files.

conoco-pdvsa arb award 1conoco-pdvsa arb award 2conoco-pdvsa arb award 3conoco-pdvsa arb award 4

Last Friday the two sides filed a statement saying they had settled the case, and this week the court dismissed the case. Isn’t that sweet? Just like Israel and Hamas, only without the dead people. Most likely PDVSA has made the payment to ConocoPhillips.

The most interesting part of this case, by far, is the “side agreement,” which was important in giving ConocoPhillips its win. Continue reading

Exxon-PDVSA case stuff, catching up on year-old details

Hey remember how a year ago an arbitration panel granted ExxonMobil a limited award in a case against Petroleos de Venezuela SA? (This is different from the arbitration case Exxon is still pursuing against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.) And remember how nobody could get their hands on a copy of the decision, so there was all sorts of speculation about why that amount, with me incorrectly saying that Exxon had gotten market value for its assets and then other people saying there was some secret $27 “fair price” in the original agreements that limited PDVSA’s liability and, yeah, me either. Anyway, since January, the award has been sitting in US court files for anyone to download for less than $10. Thanks to the generous donors to this site, I have a little reserve that I use exactly to pay for this sort of thing. Here you go. And many thanks to those who have clicked the “Donate” button.


Oh sorry, I didn’t mention: 24 megabyte PDF. Don’t open if you need your computer to run at peak performance.

Alek Boyd digs his teeth into Derwick

Yes, I know: Blogger Alek Boyd is a pain in the ass, and he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But sometimes it takes a pain in the ass to really dig into a story.

And that is what he’s doing with Derwick Associates, one of the companies that supplies equipment and services to the Venezuelan state electricity industry at what newspaper Últimas Noticias said were inflated values. Yes, Derwick, the company whose lawyers sent me an annoying but self-defeating letter telling me to take down a page because it contained material referred to in a defamation case in Florida.

Today he runs a translation of Cesar Batiz’s original article that exposed Derwick along with other companies such as Ovarb. Boyd’s Derwick coverage is worth reading if you care about oil-related corruption. Continue reading

Nationalization today: Private investment up in Bolivia

This is part of my ongoing attempt to remind this site’s readers that private entrepreneurs often don’t care about the nationalization of oil and gas companies and other such strategic industries. Here’s Reuters on private investment in Bolivia. And before you get started, do note: there are few hard numbers in this piece, and lots of “to be sure” — but this excerpt gives the flavor:

Entrepreneurs are even waking up to El Alto’s potential.

Its first supermarkets, shopping centers and cinemas are planned — multimillion-dollar private sector investments that would have been unthinkable almost anywhere in Bolivia a decade ago.

Banks and pizza delivery stores have set up shop in the city’s stark, traffic-choked streets and its bare brick buildings are climbing higher into the thin air as local commerce thrives 4,050 meters (13,300 feet) above sea level.

“People hardly bought anything in the past. With this government there’s business,” said Alicia Villalba, 33, selling Brazilian-made aluminum pans at a twice-weekly market where everything from livestock to second-hand cars is on sale.

Go read the rest if you like to know what’s going on in Bolivia or if, more generally, you need a case study to show:

1. Aggregate demand = consumption + investment + government + net exports
2. No risk, no reward

Lesson of the day: Use language well (IKN censored)

Google Corp’s “Blogger” service has high standards for discourse — especially in Canada. You may record your poorly formatted hypno-sex fantasies. You’re free to write a lengthy screed about how the US president is an uppity nigger. And there’s nothing wrong with crushing a kitten to death with a high-heeled shoe (Really, don’t click that one. I rarely have to stop watching something, but that one did it.)

But there are some things that go too far. Like if you write “whole nine years” rather than “whole nine yards.” In that case, the Blogger Snappy Phrase Enforcement Unit is going to shut your page right down.

Yes, it looks like site-pal Otto managed to really do it this time. You gotta be pretty bad to run afoul of Google, the “don’t be evil” company. But they took down a page of his. Go see his reaction if you like. Trust me, it’s the only link on this post that deserves a click. (Also, if you want to see the original post that got censored, it’s still up — just not in Canada. See, they are very particular about their yards vs. years issues.)

PS I am still feeling ill from that video. WTF.

Venezuela takes over Loma de Níquel, workers get the shaft

I know, old joke, and it doesn’t work well for an open pit mine. But it’s unfortunately true. Anglo American is now fully out of Venezuela, having sold its coal mine and involuntarily returned its nickel concession.

The Venezuelan state took over operations of the Loma de Níquel mine at midnight Sunday morning, confirming what I reported here a month earlier. The situation was more like my “Imaginary scenario 2,” in which the government has no idea it’s about to be in the nickel business and doesn’t handle the transition very well. Mine manager Carlos Dini, cited in El Universal, says PDVSA is now “operating” the mine, although a worker at the mine says it’s not PDVSA but rather managers left over from Anglo American who are running things. Continue reading