Tag Archives: trade

Colombia trade trends: yes, it’s a coincidence

Yeah, Otto, it’s a coincidence. Colombia is importing more from lots of countries, not just the USA.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.16.50 AM

All figures from here. 2014 numbers are just through October, so that decrease is likely to disappear in final figures. As you can see, the big winners since 2010 have been Mexico (free trade agreement since 1995) and China (no free trade agreement), much more than the USA.

Commodity price trends and changes in Colombian access to consumer credit (for Chinese knickknacks) are probably bigger factors in this chart than trade agreements.

Venezuela sanctions: Expect no serious backlash

So, the US is imposing a few more targeted sanctions on a few more people from Venezuela. There are a lot of reasons to oppose this sort of measure, but I continue to hear the blah blah of how oh no, now the Venezuelan government (or “regime,” as they say) will blame the US for all its problems.

David Smilde, of the Washington Office on Latin America, wrote a pretty scholarly piece trying to support this claim, in the form of a long argument against a ranty kvetsch of mine from a few months back.

My old post followed the appearance before US Congress by US Dept of State biggishwig Roberta Jacobson. Back then, she recommended against imposing sanctions on Venezuelan alleged human rights violators, saying that rights defenders within Venezuela had told her that would be a lousy idea during that sensitive moment of talks. The anti-sanctions argument, articulated then by Smilde and many others, was that sanctions would give the Venezuelan government a chance to justify its failures. He and others predicted that new sanctions would cause the sort of rhetoric we have long seen in regard to the US sanctions on Cuba. I found that to be a pretty weak argument, because the government of Venezuela wasn’t already using that sort of rhetoric, and the US already had sanctions in place. What would make these new sanctions different? Continue reading

Leak of Venezuela contractor documents raises questions (Updated)


Tomás Lander

What appears to be a leak of internal documents from Missouri electricity industry contractor ProEnergy Services and Venezuelan contractor Derwick Associates adds to questions about how ProEnergy got deals to sell products made by General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce to Venezuelan state industries starting in late 2009.

The documents, posted to the website Scribd Nov. 17 by a person using the name “Tomás Lander,” include a proposal dated June 2009 from ProEnergy to Venezuela offering power plants. At the time, Venezuela was suffering periodic blackouts because demand for electricity was growing, a drought was draining hydroelectric reservoirs and the 2008 commodities bust had left the country with limited cash to deal with the crisis.

I haven’t been able to confirm that the documents are genuine. I sent e-mails to Derwick Associates’ press line, ProEnergy CEO Jeff Cannon and ProEnergy chief counsel Scott Dieball, asking them to validate or refute the authenticity of the documents and requesting comment. I haven’t received any response. At a glance, nothing about the documents indicates that they are forgeries. As such, for the rest of this article I will treat them as genuine documents. If ProEnergy, Derwick or anyone else offers any commentary on the documents, I will update this post to reflect their response.

The documents don’t show what happened to that ProEnergy proposal. However, another document shows that two months later, ProEnergy and Derwick agreed to cooperate in seeking work in Venezuela. Their agreement forbids either company from revealing “any and all details regarding transactions between Derwick and ProEnergy, details regarding transactions between a party and third parties, and the payment of fees and commissions.”*

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I spoke too soon (US-Venezuela fuel trade, if you must know)

(Yes, I corrected spelling in the headline. Originally it was a secret message about my conversation partner, Mr. Soon.)

Remember how back in April I said that Venezuela was importing far less fuel from the US, indicating refineries were coming back on line? Yeah, no worries, I didn’t remember that either. Anyway, looks like I spoke too soon. A few more months go by, you see the trend is still that Venezuela is buying way too much US fuel.

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 11.33.38 PM

That’s total fuel exports from the US to Venezuela, through June, in thousands of barrels a day. After falling to just 7,000 for one month, the figure jumped right back up to pre-Amuay disaster levels and has stayed there. Why? Continue reading

PDVSA faces $100 million lawsuit over ambassador’s alleged con man links

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 11.42.21 PMPDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, will have to defend itself in US court in a bizarre $100 million case that involves the Venezuelan ambassador to Nigeria, a 2-person law firm in Mississippi, a white-haired Caribbean con man and imaginary tankers full of fuel.

It all started in 2006, when the Nigerian government created a new state fuel import company called Skanga Energy & Marine. Managing Director Christian Imoukhuede approached Venezuelan representatives in his country about buying diesel and gasoline. According to Skanga’s lawsuit, he spoke to Enrique Arrundell, Venezuela’s trade consul, who told him he’d have to work with an agent, rather than buying directly. The agent was a company called Arevenca. Continue reading

Venezuela fuel imports update: the derroche continues

Venezuela is buying ever more finished motor fuel from the USA. In January, it bought a record 113,000 barrels a day of the stuff. Meanwhile, it halted purchases of MTBE and special naphthas, which I previously referred to as the “good” imports. It’s grim.

Source: US EIA

Source: US EIA

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No, no connection at all (CVX)

Update I hear from the El Universal reporter, Ernesto Tovar, that the interview actually took place before Maduro spoke. That just shows that Chevron wasn’t responding to Maduro, nor Maduro to Chevron. The differences in their discourses is enlightening.

March 1:

Nicolás Maduro: La agresión de Chevron a Ecuador es también contra Venezuela

(Nicolas Maduro, de facto president of Venezuela, says Chevron Corp. is attacking Venezuela by, I guess, defending itself against what’s likely the biggest environmental law verdict ever. His phrasing was reminiscent of the NATO treaty, which declares that an attack on one is an attack on all.)

March 4:

Estamos abiertos a ampliar el financiamiento a Petropiar

(Ali Moshiri, president of the Chevron Corp. division responsible for oil production in Africa and Latin America, gives a rare lengthy interview in the Venezuelan press and says “The collaboration between Chevron and PDVSA is one of the best.”)

As is so often the case, strong words from the Bolivarian government against a multinational oil company coincide with the government’s opening to increased investment from a multinational oil company. Continue reading

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

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